From Lockdown to an Open Home: How the Pandemic Led Us to Foster Care

“I’m just so thankful the kids are okay.”

Eight words.

These eight words, said nearly daily by my husband in spring 2020, launched a very unexpected and unlikely chapter for our family one year ago.

Like all of you, we were in lock down; our days were spent navigating “home school,” learning Zoom, and praying for bedtime. We chalked our driveway, spent nights on FaceTime, and baked more bread than I care to remember.

But at the end of every endless day, my husband would emerge from his office and say some version of those same eight words: “I’m just so thankful the kids are okay.”

We were exhausted and the world was uncertain, but one thing we knew for sure was that we were okay. Though we didn’t always feel it, we were incredibly lucky.

Home was a safe & stable haven of sorts for all five of us; a gift that many do not experience, especially in trying times.

A Stirring

Between Netflix binges and crafting with the kids, my mind would wander to the children who were stuck at home in unsafe or unstable environments. News stations began reporting on the “missing” children who hadn’t been heard from in months and had never logged into virtual classes. I would wonder what was happening to children whose parents had no choice but to leave them unattended at home while they reported to essential work.

Mental health as a country was in the garbage. Unemployment was through the roof. Addictions were skyrocketing. In short, people were hurting. And the silent victims of all of this were vulnerable children.

If I’m being completely transparent, this wasn’t the first time foster care had been a conversation in our marriage. Up until this point, it had always been discussed with a “maybe one day” mentality. After adopting our youngest in 2016, we became very connected with the local foster and adoption community. We built relationships with several foster families in the area. We were always intrigued by the idea but never felt an urgency to begin.

Getting the Kids On Board

It wasn’t until a virus brought us all home that we realized one day might sooner than we thought. At dinner one evening in July, we asked our kids what they thought of the idea. After all, we would be a foster family, not just foster parents. This was a mission we would ALL need to play a role in if it was to succeed.

After explaining the concept to them, all three were incredibly excited by the idea. Much to our surprise, the idea of offering our family to a child who needed us for a little while was received with open arms. I was blown away at the time, but looking back, it makes sense.

After all, when everything else is stripped away and the busyness subsides, the things that really matter are impossible to ignore.

The Future

We officially began the process in late August, and we became licensed just a few weeks ago. We have no idea where this journey will lead us, but we look forward to sharing what we can in the coming months.

May is National Foster Care Month, a fantastic time to learn more about becoming a foster parent yourself or how to support those who do.

Outside of becoming a licensed foster family, you can get certified to be a respite provider or connect with a foster family in your area to provide babysitting. When cleaning out your children’s clothes and toys, consider donating to a local foster closet. If you’d like to work with foster children directly, consider volunteering with CASA of Collin County or through a non-profit organization like Embrace.

We are not all able to foster ourselves, but the truth is that we can all do something to support vulnerable children in our area. They need us now more than ever.

More here: Volunteering with CASA of Collin County

Dreaming Before Planning:: Creating a Foster Care Closet

Allison and her husband, Blake, grew up in Dallas and made the move to the 'burbs in 2010 when she began teaching middle school in Frisco. After attending Texas A&M for her undergrad, Allison came back to Dallas to pursue her Master’s in Education from SMU. She has a huge love of writing and has taught everything from preschool to eighth grade. Today, McKinney is home for her little circus which includes three children (four if you count her husband) and a troublemaking lab. Allison and her husband are both passionate about orphan care and adoption, a calling that led them to their adopted son from China and to pursue their foster care licensing during the pandemic. Keep up with all her shenanigans on Instagram!

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