Foster Care Is Not About You

Written by Laura Hackney 

There is a consistent theme I have had to accept: foster care is not about you. It is about families that are in a challenging season of life that need support, resources, and love, to have a community rally around them fighting for family preservation and reunification, when safe. That was NOT our initial understanding of foster care.

Kyle and I were young when we met a decade ago and the topic of adoption and foster care was something we were both open to, but we had no real concept of what it meant. After we had Bessa (our biological daughter), we were ready to discuss what family expansion might look like, and we were immediately targeted online by a “foster-to-adopt” ad for a Christian adoption agency. We scheduled a phone call, and the consultant said, “Yeah it’s a new partnership and once a child is in your care for 6 months you can begin the adoption process. If you don’t think it’s a good fit then we can try again.” This sounded strange but we were naïve. So naïve. We submitted our application to an agency and then we had our first training. That training opened our eyes. Our world was shocked, rocked, tipped over, and heartbroken. Tons of research, prayer, heart posture shifts, and an aching for our neighbors is what called us to pursue foster care, and pursue it the right way. 

As we were in the process of getting licensed, we knew we did not want newborn placements. There are so many families who prefer 2 and under, who are only willing to take babies. We wanted to fill a need, not a want. So licensed for three kids, open to sibling sets and older kids, we submitted our license. The call came: a newborn, needing to be picked up the next day. There were 3 other families who they wanted to place the baby with, but they wanted a back-up just in case it fell through. We put our yes on the table, but without expectation. The next morning we received the call that he was being placed with us and that our license was approved. We adjusted our plan and headed to pick up Bubs from the hospital. 

Here is where the need to submit to this theme comes in, where full surrender to the Lord has to guide you. You say you believe in reunification, you say you’ll connect with bio mom/dad/family, you say you’ll advocate for the best interest of the child. But will you? When a 7 lb baby is laid in your arms and you hear the case file, will you? Absolutely. Even if it’s hard, you pick up your phone to call so they know their child is safe and tell them who you are. You prioritize that relationship, because there is a family, a story, a history, a mom, a dad, siblings, tangibly on the other side. Your neighbor, needing you. You cover yourself in the cloak of serving your neighbor, writing “reunification” on every scrap piece of blank paper as a reminder, vividly feeling the weight of the emotions that are held in this story. 

Walking this out was easier some days than others, but regardless, reunification was the primary goal. Without pause, advocating for his mom, speaking of her in light, having deep conversations with her about our heart posture for her to have her son back. Shocked, the day in court came where we heard the words “Mom has relinquished her parental rights only to Kyle and Laura.” This was information we did not know before entering that courtroom, something we would never have asked of her, but there we were.

We began processing this information, weighing what adoption looked like, and saying a well weighed yes for our son. We continued to fight for first family relationships, even when gaps in communication happened, prioritizing both his and our relationships with them. Always pressing in. We had a teen join our home in June 2022 for a few months and then in February of this year for a couple months. After Sweet J left in April, our hearts were broken and shattered. We needed time and space for our unit to just process all of the change that had been happening. But here again, submission to the theme: foster care is not about me.

A sibling. A newborn. Bubs newborn sister. We got the call notifying us that Bubs sister was recently born and needed same day placement. My husband and I discussed all the logistics, realities, complications, and joys. Even in all that, Kyle said “Ultimately and obviously our answer is Yes. It’s Bubs sister. There is no way we are not saying yes.” Sibling sets are hard to keep together in foster care. Most children who enter into care with siblings do not get to grow up or be in the same placements as their other siblings. Bubs will have this chance. But let’s get back to the theme: foster care isn’t about me.  

We call her Bebe, this new baby. A new case. Another chance. Another opportunity. Their mom now has a clean slate, a new case plan to work towards reunification for her daughter. Right now, Bubs and his sister are together in our home. They will get time to grow up together, but that might not be forever. Just as we fiercely rallied behind Bubs mom for him, we will do the same for Bebe. We will show up in the same consistent love and grace we always have, even though it could lead to complete heartbreak. 

How am I supposed to fight for reunification for one sibling when the other is with us forever? I am not going to pretend that this is going to be easy. The bottom line is this: in hard moments, we all deserve to have people that believe in us more than we believe in ourselves,  to love us for who we are at our core, not avoid us because of our faults, and to have a community that redoubles its efforts. Every story deserves wholeness and restoration. It may not look how I want it to or go the way I imagine, but what I do know is that foster care is not about me. So here I am, actively standing in the gap for my neighbor, the same neighbor, to advocate for what’s in the best interest of this family, keeping reunification as the primary goal. 


Follow Laura on instagram as she advocates for family preservation and reunification!

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