"So, is it you or Trent that isn't able to have kids?"
-someone I've been acquainted with for years
"I don't mean to be nosy, but are you going this route because you can't have your own kids?"
-someone I had just met
"Sooo...who are these little ones?"
-confused cousins who saw us at Mawmaw's birthday party in February toting two kids after seeing us at Christmas with none
"Oooh, so she's your foster baby, she's not your baby. I was wondering where the blue eyes came from."
-Nurse at doctor's office (in response to which I wanted to punch her and say "she is too my baby!!", but I politely refrained)
"Remember that time we got kids at the beginning of tax season and had no earthly idea what we were doing? We were crazy. Not as crazy as the State of Texas for giving them to us!"
Trent and I are weird. We already realize that. We've never been much for blindly pursuing the norm in life and have turned expectations on their head on more than one occasion, beginning with getting married when we had barely even made it into our twenties. We've blazed our own trail and as one of my sisters once said, "Y'all are writing a very interesting story."
So of course when it came to the "well I guess we're supposed to have a baby soon" time in our life, we balked and went a completely different, crazy, unexpected direction.
Duh. Because we're cool like that. Or certifiably nuts. You pick.
We have realized that, while there are plenty of people out there who are or have been foster parents, there seem to be very few who do so as a first choice in parenting. Most folks that feel a pull towards it have "their own" children first and then intend to foster when those kids have grown up a bit. They do it this way because it's right for them or because it's the norm and the fact that there could be another order or way about it doesn't cross their mind. You get married, you have babies. That's the way it typically goes. And if you sadly find out you can't have babies, then you turn to fostering or adopting.
This is why we have gotten so many confused looks and questions or assumptions about the state of our reproductive organs.
This is why when people like Ashley and myself connect with each other, we are instant BFFs and send long emails flying back and forth because we understand each other and our desire to parent kids that are already out there in this world somewhere rather than make our own.
This is why my continual hunt for blogs by first-choice foster or adoptive parents produces few results, because most of them begin with "after a long struggle with infertility".
This is why at our local foster parent association the other day, I was the youngest foster parent in the room by decades.
I wish our choice was more normal...
Not for our own sake. We're rock solid in this choice and will field the questions all day in order for someone to understand. No, for the sake of the kids in the system. For the sake of kids who are waiting. For the sake of CPS which needs good foster families. Take it outside the realm of fostering as well...for the sake of children in Uganda, Haiti, Cameroon, Kenya, Russia, Guatemala, you name the place, who are orphaned and in great need.
What if we were met with "ah cool, my friend so-and-so also went into fostering as a first choice" instead of "wait, what?"
What if we didn't have to spend so much time explaining the world of foster care and adoption, how it works, because more people already know how it works?
What if more people said "we're going to pursue adoption and then maybe have a baby someday after that" instead of "we might pursue adoption after our baby grows up a bit"?
What if, upon learning that someone is pursuing fostering or adoption as a first choice to build their family, people could easily take it at face value instead of letting their assumptions run wild about the capability of that someone's baby making bizzness?
What if more people who feel a call to fostering or adoption early on ask God the hard question "Do you mean now? First? Only?"
Think of the kids that could be reached and loved. Think of the situations that could become normal instead of strange. Think of the ministries that could emerge.
I have hope. A few decades ago, adopting a child was indeed most often the result of infertility, it was often kept a secret from the child and was almost viewed as a shameful last resort. Now? I'm married to a man who knew his entire life that he was adopted. Adoption is a good thing now, an awesome thing. And you know what? Something is brewing. Have you noticed the billboards for adoptuskids.org? Or their radio ads saying "you don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent"? Have you seen the tv specials like A Home For The Holidays on CBS? Have you bought a frosty at Wendy's to support the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption?
This is becoming a thing. And it excites me to no end. People are talking. People are advocating. People are pushing awareness. The challenge is being issued.
What will we do with it?
I do not in ANY way wish to diminish the struggle and heartbreak of infertility or loss of a child. Some people in my life have been through it, I have found many awesome adoption bloggers who have and I know many, many families out there have indeed turned to adoption out of necessity in order to grow their family. I have the highest regard for these families and commend them for their strength and perseverance.