Considering Capacity for Placements

Considering your capacity for placements is a key part of becoming a foster parent. We found that ours was actually larger than we thought.

The Plan

When we started our foster care journey, we had no idea what to expect with how our family dynamic would change. We had no biological children and we were specifically looking to take in a sibling group. As new parents, we felt a sibling group of two would be the best fit.  Additionally, we both had full time jobs, so we prepared for school age children. 

The Placements

However, when we received the notice about a 5 and 6 year old sibling group, we were told they also had a 1 year old brother that would be placed elsewhere. The file for the 5 year old specifically said how attached she was to her little brother, and so my husband and I talked and decided we would make it work. Our heart was to keep siblings together, so how could we bring in these two kiddos while knowing their little brother was out there somewhere? Ultimately, it was the right fit, and we’ve received lots of confirmation over the past year that the kids were meant to be matched with us. 

As we adjusted to new routines and adapted our home for a 1 year old we hadn’t expected, things changed again. Two months into their placement with us we got a call that their mother had delivered a baby girl. A newborn was so outside of our comfort zone, but that sweet baby deserved to be with her brothers and sister. We agreed to take her, and four hours later a precious ten day old baby was in our kitchen. 


The Checklist

As part of our licensing, there was a long and extensive checklist we completed. It outlined demographics, behaviors, characteristics, and other traits that we were comfortable working with. It has straightforward things such as gender and age. Then it also includes more complex things such as medical diagnoses, any history of any abuse, juvenile justice involvement, family history, and more. 

I genuinely think this was the hardest part of our licensing. My heart wanted to say yes to everything, but knowing your limits and capacity is crucial in this process. For example, our home is not accessible for a wheelchair or compatible for other special needs. My heart would love to say yes to kiddos with these kinds of special needs, but it’s just not realistic in our home. As first time foster parents, there were different behaviors that we did not feel equipped to handle. 

Limits vs. Fears

As I look back on what we believed our “limits” were, many of them were fear based. A fear of our own capabilities and capacity. It’s easy to dissociate a bit when going through the checklist. We had to remember each of the “traits” or “behaviors” would be connected to a child. Also, there’s the reality that when a child enters the system, much of their history may be unknown. Saying yes to fostering meant saying yes to the unknown.

Our plan was a sibling group of two, ages 6 and up. Our first placement ended up being a sibling group of ages ranging from newborn – 6. Did we stick with our “boundary”? No. Was this a loosely held boundary that was mostly created to fit our “comfort zone”? Yes. Are there other boundaries that need to be held more firmly when considering a placement? Absolutely. 

Looking back on our expectations of how our life would change, I can’t help but laugh. This past year and a half has completely changed our life upside down. But, I wouldn’t change a single decision or moment of this journey. Every foster family is different. Not having biological kids of our own made our first placement extra transformative. However, I’m glad we stretched past our comfort zone. Our community stepped in when we were overwhelmed and we found our routine as a family. We have found that the leap of faith to say yes has been met with overwhelming support for the areas we need help. It is this encouragement that we hold to as we press forward into the unknown with these kiddos and prepare ourselves for any future kiddos entrusted in our care.

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