by Johnny, Restore Network Foster Dad
What were your biggest concerns as you considered saying yes to foster care?
Johnny: For me, the foster care journey was unexpected. When my wife and I first started thinking about adoption, we had a very specific story in mind. It was certainly for me a rose-colored version of international adoption that seemed like a “safe” path. We went to an adoption seminar and learned about our options and foster care was off our radar. It seemed like something too messy to get involved with. As it was, I had concerns with how adopting a child into our already large family (we had 4 boys under the age of 10 at the time) would affect us and our existing kids. I wasn’t sure about the commitment it would take. So foster care was well outside my bubble of things I thought I wanted to take on. With the way that foster kids are portrayed in movies and TV, I didn’t feel like that was the “kind of kid” I wanted to bring into my home.
Why did you ultimately say yes?
Johnny: We ran into many issues with trying to adopt and after yet another door was closed on us, my wife and I were wondering what was going on and what we were supposed to do. A social worker we had been working with on an adoption suggested that we look into PRIDE classes. There was nothing to lose and no commitments, so we went ahead and signed up. It was during these sessions that I finally learned the truth about foster care. The PRIDE sessions helped to dispel many of the preconceived ideas that I had about why the foster care system exists and what the goals of foster care were. This wasn’t about trouble kids, this was about helping kids who were in trouble. It wasn’t about taking kids away from their homes, it was about providing them with a home until it was safe for them to return, or if that was not possible, perhaps giving them a new permanent home.
We finished the class and about 8 months later we got a call for our first placement of 9-month-old twins. By this point, there wasn’t any hesitation and I was ready to move forward. Those twins were in need of a home and due to their situation, we took them in on a foster-to-adopt path.
How has God worked in your life during your foster care journey?
Johnny: It’s been 10 years since our foster journey started. God has a lot of work left to do on me. 16 months into our first placement we got a call for a sibling placement. My initial reaction was that with 6 kids between the ages of 1 to 12, adding a newborn was too much. But, he has grown me in many ways since. He has shown me that I can handle far beyond what I thought was possible. Fast forward to 2019 when we got a call to foster a baby that was in need, it was not a difficult choice. We found the space in our home for a little one who needed a safe place. Sure it has not been easy during COVID-19 to having a baby in the house, but knowing that we are caring for her as best as we can in this season is what we are supposed to be doing.
What would you say to other men who God may be calling to foster?
Johnny: Fostering can be difficult, but if it were easy, everyone would do it. I think that is how the saying goes. It is true, you will be stretched and grown in the process I believe that it is a high calling of God to care for children who need a home. Even if for a little while until it is safe for them to return to their birth home, or for a lifetime due to extreme circumstances. If I were to give any advice to men who are considering fostering but are unsure, to not wait until all of your fears are gone. I would assume that is a rarity. If you have it in your heart that this is what you are called to do, then learn what you can and move forward. Second, make sure you are honest with your spouse about your fears or concerns. There is a good chance that even if they are gung-ho, they still have uncertainties, and sharing them together makes you a better team for it.
In the end, if God is calling, then we should follow. Will this change your life? Absolutely. Will it be worth it to follow God’s call, no matter the outcome? You better believe it.