Life just got much more interesting...
Something amazing happened that made me want to actually take some time to write about it. People who know me understand I usually stay a bit reserved about my personal life. I'm not one to talk about my goings on at home often, nor do I really actively use social networks often (I do have the accounts, but usually lurk behind the scenes...). Christ, look at the last time I even made a post on my site here!
A few years ago, after a number of attempts to have children to no avail, I ended up getting some tests done. I learned that I am unable to father children. I was never able to find a cause, I just cant have kids.
Naturally that made life tough for my wife and I, as we have been together quite a long time. Children were a big goal we were both aiming towards, but didn't want to push it, we intended to let nature take its course. We attempted IUI (IntraUterine Insemination) with sperm donors as well, but that never took. Both of us were very frustrated physically, as well as emotionally. Friends were starting to have kids themselves, which was hard for us to see, so we stayed to ourselves. It sounds somewhat callous, but it made for some very odd feelings: sincere joy for our friends vs. our 'mourning' the death of a child we wanted to have.
Over time though, mostly when dealing with our attempts at IUI, I came to the realization that even if I can't be the biological father of a child, it doesn't mean I can't be a great dad. As such, wifey and I (after much discussing), made the decision to look into becoming Foster Parents, specifically fostering to adopt. Thus started the completely unique process of going through about 30 hours of various certification classes, and countless others locking our house down with baby proofing to make sure we can be approved foster parents.
Fostering is a uniquely odd experience, both in learning how to be a parent, but in also juggling the legal restrictions that come with it. There is a singular reason why a child is in the foster system: their parent(s) are unable to fulfill the role of parent. When this is determined, the child is taken away by Child Protective Services for its protection. As to why the parent(s) can't fulfill their role comes from any number of issues: neglect, physical and/or sexual abuse, drug use, etc. Once a child is detained by the court system, they are taken away and placed in an approved foster home. Nobody working in the foster system is there unwillingly; it takes many, many months for foster parents to become approved and certified, and it takes years for social workers to understand the ins and outs of the system.
The one thing to keep in mind is that there is a clear distinction between Fostering and Adopting. The point of the foster system is not to find a new family. The point is to help the biological parents better themselves to the point that they can reunite the family. It is incredibly taxing on the biological parents though. The foster system is part of the legal system. When the child is taken away, a court date is set almost immediately for the biological parents, where the hearing will determine what the parent(s) need to do to prove they are fit parents. This can widely vary depending on the reason why their child was taken away. However, it never is an easy thing. Usually, there are mandatory visitations multiple times a week. What if the parent(s) don't have a car readily available? They would have to take the bus to the agency, sometimes multiple hours one way, not counting all the other tasks they have to fulfill.
If something happens where the parent(s) are deemed unfit for the child, then the child has the possibility of being adopted. However, this is ONLY if the parent(s) prove they can't take care of their child. Remember, the whole point is to reunify the child with the parent, it's only if the court determines that sending the child back to their parents isn't in the child's best interest that they become adoptable. Most of the time, the child is then placed into a home that would be willing to adopt him or her, but it isn't always the same family as the foster family.
Thus brings us to where we are now! About one week ago, wifey and I had a Little One placed in our care, and we couldn't be happier! For some obvious legal reasons, I can't discuss much of Little One publicly, or the situation, but we are both quite enamored with her. Our job is to care for her and make sure she gets the love and attention she deserves during this ordeal. It's a unique beast, the foster care system, but this is one of the things in my life that truly feels important. As we started this, it became apparent how big the U.S. foster system is. People I never knew came out of the proverbial woodwork either knowing someone tied to the foster system, or even were subjects of the system itself. And everyone i've talked to believes the same thing i've come around to: as long the child is being cared for and loved, it ultimately doesn't matter whether a child's parents are blood related or not.
It means a great deal to me that I will have made a difference in this child's life, no matter what happens with Little One. I cannot stress more: if you are thinking of potentially having children, or wanting another, why not consider fostering? It is an insanely rewarding (and challenging) experience.