How We Became A Family Through Foster Care

Written and photos by: Taylor Brenner

Written and photos by: Taylor Brenner

My name is Taylor and my husband JJ and I became a family through foster care. We decided to walk this road when I was teaching at an elementary school and we realized the immense need for foster families in our community. 17 out of my 40 students were in foster care, and all of a sudden foster care was no longer just something we knew about, it had become personal to us. We began the licensing process and over the course of the past 3 years, we have had 6 foster children.

4 of those children have been the 4 children we currently have in our home. They are biological siblings, and we are doing everything we can to keep them together. However, fostering and adopting a sibling group definitely comes with some unique complexities…. Like the fact that we have a 3 year old, 2 year old and 1 year old twins… that’s roughly 25-35 diapers a day depending on the kind of day everyone is having. We have shifted our schedules around, changed jobs, and figured out how to manage the balancing act of therapy appointments, doctors appointments, visitations, foster care meetings and court hearings because this is worth it to JJ and I.

Our oldest two, Winnie and Max were legally adopted this past Spring and we are hoping that if our twin babies move toward adoption that we would have the chance to adopt them. Although the waiting and unknown is so hard, we are soaking up every moment we get to have with them and are making lots of memories together.

The importance of keeping siblings together is something that not a lot of people realize, or feel that they have capacity for. That’s how we felt when we started the foster care process. We were only planning to foster one child because that’s all that we felt like we were able to, but we are so thankful that God had other plans for us. When you understand all of the factors that can affect a child and how important to their development having a biological relationship, such as a sibling is, it becomes much easier to say “yes”. You have to ask yourself “What is important?”, and “What does this child need?”. Once you are able to sift through all the options, consider how much of your response is simply “I don’t want to” versus, “It’s not a good idea for our family.” There are definitely situations where taking on more children isn’t a possibility, but the likelihood of encountering sibling sets is very high in foster care. If you are considering becoming a foster parent you should be ready and open to the possibility of a sibling set.

In many states, siblings are seen as a group or unit in the eyes of the courts. Therefore, many legal decisions are made based on what is best for all of the siblings, not just them as individuals. By keeping siblings together we can ensure that they get the same advocacy and chance at permanency that an individual child would get in the foster system. The reason that foster care exists is to help broken families heal and come back together. So, keeping siblings together is a huge part of that ultimate goal. When reunification back to their immediate biological family can’t happen it is important that siblings stay together because whether or not children realize it at the time, a biological link between siblings helps establish stability and identity throughout the child’s life.

A question I get asked often and the hardest to answer to those who don’t live in the foster world is, “What if I get too attached?” My simple answer is this: Get too attached, you won’t regret it. My in depth answer: These children need you to love them with everything you have. By loving them in this way, you are teaching them to love, to trust, and what it looks like to have a healthy relationship. You are setting that foundation for them. What an amazing gift to give to someone else! If you are reading this and you are in the midst of saying goodbye to a child you have loved with an open heart, please know you aren’t alone. Please know that child has forever been changed by the love you gave them and they will carry it with them no matter where they go. That is something no one can take from you.

Our adoptions have made our family feel whole. While JJ and I were a family before fostering and ultimately adopting, it was incomplete. Since we’ve adopted our oldest two, there is a sense of belonging and “wholeness” that is inexplicable. We are a family. Just as if they had been born to us biologically. We share the same love, affection, and bond as any other family.

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