We’ll call her Rina. She was one of the very first people we met on our journey. A suburban mom, an engineer and a foster parent. She put her yes on the table for a very special girl, our niece. Rina surprised me with a message on LinkedIn the other day and it’s the first time we’ve connected in nearly 10 years.
She would be about 12 today, but our niece, ‘Rory’ was in foster care in the western part of North Carolina for a short time a decade ago. We met her for the first time at Rina’s house, after a county granted permission for us to visit while we were pursuing full-time custody. It was our first steps into this world and we had no clue that this would become our life’s passion.
Rina shattered every preconceived Hollywood-ized notion of what a foster parent was supposed to be. Her home was beautiful. Her neighborhood was tucked away off the beaten path in the foothills. She was kind and fiercely protective of this little girl in her care. She shared photos and details with us and with our niece’s bio dad. We’re beyond grateful for the time we had with our niece.
Our last meeting was at a park. We brought presents for her birthday. She rode the swings and we soaked in every moment, knowing the end to this story wasn’t going to be with us. Rory returned to her father and we believe moved out of state. On my desk ever since that time has been a photo of that precious little girl.
But where a void was formed, a legacy was planted. Just a few years later, the rumblings of becoming foster parents ourselves was growing in my wife. Shortly after, I caught the excitement and the rest of our story continues to unfold today. Since that last meeting in a park, we’ve met hundreds of people like Rina. And I would say that’s the unspoken benefit of foster care and adoption.
If I were to try to name them all, I’d fail miserably. But there are a few key people that we would have never met if we hadn’t put our yes on the table. Neil & Amy introduced us to community. Josh & Kristen taught us to be comfortable being different. And our entire care team at church are teaching us to face the fact that we can’t walk this path alone.
So many people have influenced our lives, encouraged us in the hard moments, grounded us when our heads were in the clouds and have become part of an incredible community. I started counting all the people that we’ve met solely because of our foster/adoption journey… too many to count. For one child alone, I tallied 60 people we’ve come in contact with because of them.
Ten years ago, we would have never dreamed that we would now be parents to four beautiful children of different races and different backgrounds.
I would have laughed if you told me we’d be mentoring other couples considering becoming foster parents. I would be horrified to learn that I’m putting my career on the shelf to go all-in to care for these kids.
You can be a Rina in someone’s life. Becoming a foster parent is not something everyone is called to do, but everyone is called to do something. Here are some ways you can come along on the journey. There are so many benefits to fostering, but one of the best is all of the people that you meet.