- Are you glad you went tonight?
Jack - Yes.
Allison - Definitely.
- Before you went did you feel sure one way or another?
Jack - I would say before we went I was at 90% sure we would do it.
Allison - I think I was probably about the same.
- After you've gone to the seminar, do you feel sure one way or another? Is it different from what you felt before going to the seminar?
Jack - Yes, I feel sure. The reason I would say I feel slightly different is that I feel like there is more of a support system with the agency than I thought there was going to be. Because of that support system, I feel less like we're on our own and if there is any problems we will have help getting through them.
Allison - The seminar definitely cementedme wanting and feeling like this was what we are supposed to do. It's only different from before because I felt anxious about the seminar because of my strong reaction to the domestic infant adoption seminar we went to and that my reaction to that was so strongly not what I expected... so I was worried I would be blindsided again, but happily, I feel very sure this is what we are called to do. I left there feeling lifted up in that yes, we can do this and on top of that, wow, with this agency we are going to have a LOT more support than I ever imagined.
- Did you feel like all of your questions were answered sufficiently?
Jack - Yes.
Allison - Yes. And I also feel like if I thought up any more questions that they would be thoroughly answered if I called the agency or emailed any one of the workers there.
- Were you surprised by anything?
Jack - Yes. A couple things... The percentage rate of kids that don't get reunited with their families... over 50% that are not reunited with their families are adopted either by their foster parents or another family waiting to adopt them. And that Foster Parents are usually chosen as priority over other family members. So if you had a child in your home for 18 months and the parental rights were terminated, the foster family would be given precedence over other family members since the child has bonded and has forged a relationship with the Foster Family.
Allison - A lot of things actually, I was pleasantly surprised that you can absolutely have your foster kids in bunk beds, that you are allowed to take your foster kids up north on vacation whenever you want as long as it doesn't interfere with a parental or family visit or some other type of appointment that was already set up. That they don't care what type or how many animals you have in the home. Another thing that surprised me was some of the asinine questions that other prospective foster parents asked lol... like one woman asked, "After you adopt a child, what are you financially responsible for?" The caseworkers just looked at her like she had three eyes... um... Everything? Duh! I was surprised about the same things as Jack too.
- Is there anything that you are not looking forward to in the process because of the way they explained it?
Jack - I don't think so.
Allison - I'm kind of not looking forward to driving to Madison Heights for all of the training but that's not even that big of a deal.
- Do you foresee any issues?
Jack - I can't really see anything bad happening that I know for sure is going to happen. Besides developing a relationship with this kid and having to give it back and being heartbroken.
Allison - I am nervous about family and friends' support. It's really not like we're not used to be treated differently as a couple who struggles with infertility, but I'm worried that the same thing will happen to us with ignorant people making ignorant comments like we're not REAL parents. But then again, situations like this really weed out who is important and worthy of being kept in your life and who isn't. So that's really the only thing I think I'm going to struggle with that I just don't know who or if anyone is going to turn out that way in our lives. Infertility was like that with a lot of our friends. Some were angry by it, some were flat out insensitive and horrible and others just were indifferent where a few were supportive. I'm worried that we are going to lose even more friends over it, but if that's what it comes down to, then so be it I suppose. And of course the normal, just like Jack said, falling in love and letting go.
- Do you feel like there is adequate support offered by the agency?
Jack - Yeah definitely.
Allison - Yes! I was very happily surprised. The ladies who did the seminar seemed very down to earth and more than willing to help and joke and get through the process as smoothly as possible with them doing as much of the grunt work as they can to make it as easy as possible on us.
- Are you comfortable with your choice of the agency?
Jack - Yeah. I don't know what any other one is like, but I don't see any reason to even look.
Allison - Yes! I couldn't be happier, especially that the first thing that they started with at the seminar was Bethany's mission statement.
- Did you have an age range in mind before going to the seminar? Is it different after the seminar?
Jack - Before the seminar, I thought newborn to 9 years old. After the seminar, newborn to 7 ish depending on circumstances.
Allison - Same as Jack. It sort of dawned on us that some children go through puberty at 8 or 9 years old and we are just not prepared to deal with that sort of thing yet, so it would definitely be a case by case situation where we would decide if that was something that we could handle.
- Was there anything that you thought was one way before going to the seminar and after, you learned you were incorrect?
Jack - Foster parents being at the top of the list when the children get put up for adoption. Also that they are more lenient for rules than I thought they would be, I thought everything would be extremely regulated and there doesn't seem to be as much as I thought there would be.
Allison - I think a lot of what I thought was one way but turned out to be incorrect was actually things that were told to me by people who acted like they could speak with authority on the subject but really they had no idea. Bunk beds being allowed was one thing. Another was the type of pets we have. Another was children of opposite sex being allowed to share a bedroom up until a certain age. Another was children of the same sex sharing a bed as long as it is a full size bed or larger. Really, as with any situation that isn't very common, there is a lot of misinformation and a lot of ignorant people who think they know way more than they do and try to talk with some authority. One more thing was that this woman told me was that in Michigan, the parents have basically unlimited amount of time to get their stuff together before their parental rights are terminated. Which that was one thing that really bothered me, I couldn't imagine living in limbo with a child that you were raising for 10 years and their parents just got time and time and time and time again to get their stuff together, it turns out the real fact is that they have about a year, depending on what the situation that their birth family is in and then after that the agency and the state pushes for a termination of parental rights so that the child has a chance to stay in a stable loving home, instead of spending the rest of its life indefinitely in limbo.
- Did you learn anything?
Jack - Basically what I learned was all the stuff we've already talked about in these questions. I did learn some things but I didn't leave there feeling like, "wow, I had no idea what this was like!" I feel like I had a pretty good grasp of the situation before we even got there.
Allison - Pretty much, I learned to take what people who have no idea what they're talking about say with a grain of salt. Even if your brother and sister-in-law did foster parenting 5 years ago or 10 or 25, a lot of laws have changed and statues and regulations have changed. Requirements from one agency to the next are different. States are vastly different from one to the next with what they require. Unless you're going through the same agency, doing the exact same type of program, wanting to do the exact same type of kids with the same types of needs... you probably have a very small idea of what you're talking about compared to our situation. It changes that much from situation to situation. Another problem too is that when people pass on misinformation, it makes it so that people who were more than willing to open their homes to children in need, are suddenly put off by this misinformation and never make the leap to see for themselves. So because of spreading misinformation and ignorance, more children are left in need.
- After going to the seminar, was there anything that you didn't realize you would have to decide that now you are going to have to deal with?
Jack - There's a lot more visits with the birth family than I thought there was, not that it's a bad thing, there's probably twice as much as I thought there was going to be. I guess that's something to deal with. I didn't realize that they would have such a specific discipline system for each problem set in place. That's kind of a good thing, and I say that as someone who believes that any kind of authority needs to stay the heck out of my house. For this situation it's a good thing because these statues and systems are put in place as tried and true ways to successfully discipline children that come from abuse or neglect.
Allison - I think I had a pretty good idea of what children would be like. I know that every situation is different and I am very happy to know that at any time, if there is a situation where we are at our wits end with how to deal with, we can always call the social worker.
- Are you going to go ahead with foster parenting?
Jack - Until God closes the door.
Allison - Ditto Jack. I definitely left the seminar feeling more sure of our decision and our calling and instead of feeling unsure, I felt like there was even more support out there than I could have ever imagined. I'm ready for the next step in this adventure! I'm so excited and thrilled at the possibility of being parents. I also feel like we are in such a different situation to go forward through this because of our struggle with infertility. It just makes me feel like with how long we have waited to become parents and everything we have gone through and how much our marriage has gone through with the infertility struggle, that God has prepared our hearts for the foster parenting more so than the average family who wants to add more kids later. God made us both with a desire to have a family and to have our lives revolve around our family and when He didn't allow for us to conceive children, it has molded our hearts to not take for granted whatever children He does bring into our lives and also, I think the infertility struggle has changed us in that we will appreciate whatever time He does choose to give us. Where if we had not struggled with infertility, we would in no way have as big of an idea of what a precious gift each minute that we get to be parents is. So for however long God chooses to allow us to be parents and to whomever He chooses to bring into our home, we will be very grateful and we will know that these are the plans He has for us. So we will continue until God closes the doors or closes our hearts.