Updated March 5, 2017: When I started my blog in 2016, I didn’t realize how much I had to share about our foster care journey. The name “Today in Mrs. Bean’s Kitchen” derived from a silly thing that I would do I posted recipes I was making. I would say, for example, “Today in Mrs. Bean’s Kitchen: Bacon Jalapeño Bread,” and then post the recipe. Posting in that way became a regular occurrence. Hence my blog title. Nowadays, Today in Mrs. Bean’s Kitchen has come to mean something like, “a day in the life.” Mr. Bean and I have a lot to share about our foster care experience. There will still be some recipes along the way. 🙂 If you’d like to read more about the evolution of my blog name, click here.
I really appreciate all the love you have shown for my shiny new blog. 🙂 Because Today in Mrs. Bean’s Kitchen is in its infancy, most of you have joined due to the fact that we are either friends or family. But regardless of whether I know you very well or barely at all, and because I will be picking up new acquaintances along the way, I will begin by sharing about our foster care journey. And why I am passionate about writing about raising my son (even though it is not kitchen related).
Foster care was not the original plan.
Since February of 2014, Mr. Bean and I have been a certified foster and foster-adopt family. I know this is crazy talk to some people, but for us, it has become both one of the hardest and best things that we have ever done with our lives.
You see, Mr. Bean and I met a little later in life. We knew before marriage that we wanted kids. We actually had a big, Relationship Defining conversation about that while dating (you can read about that here). So imagine the heartache, when by our first anniversary, despite all best efforts, we were just not having luck getting a baby Bean on board. We looked into all health issues, and while nothing was coming up as a red flag, there was still no baby to show for our efforts. And because of my “Advanced Maternal Age” (yeah, love that phrase … NOT), doctors were quick to give us the list of our technological options. I very clearly remember sitting there with Mr. Bean that day, looking down the list, with a knot in my stomach, and KNOWING, beyond shadow of a doubt, that that was NOT the path for us. I don’t know why it was so clear. After all, I wanted to be a mom so much! But I will tell you that we walked (maybe ran?) out of that fertility clinic and never looked back! And at age 44 (currently), I have no regrets! (I believe this is the Lord’s work in my heart.)
So, after that, Mr. B and I did a lot of talking. We knew there were other options but didn’t have clear direction for a while. I remember thinking about how glamorous it would be for me to become the next Angelina Jolie by adopting internationally a few times. (Adoption is always just as carefree and fashionably exotic as that, right??) But after reading some blogs and books and getting information from a few agencies, we found out we either weren’t married long enough for their liking, or we were too old for their liking, or that it would take potentially years of sitting home waiting for a call. Literally, … more … years. NO. And then of course you are looking at a huge price tag to boot. As it is, I already teach in the public schools and have a hand out at every turn just to fund the program I teach. I. WILL. NOT. HAVE. A. BAKE. SALE. to bring a child home to adopt. So: moving on!
Well, “coincidentally,” around that time, a lot of foster and foster-adopt parents entered my life. Seriously! I don’t know how (well, … I do, actually), but they just started coming out of the woodwork! Everywhere I turned, I heard about foster care. I never even knew anyone that was involved in foster care before that, but all of the sudden, I found myself with new friends and colleagues who were foster and foster-adopt parents, and even several OLD friends that we were reunited with … when we discovered that they were now involved with foster care! So out of nowhere, we were getting to know some real, live foster parents and chatting them up about their experiences, … and the idea of foster care began sounding less and less crazy! It was from that point that our journey began to have wheels.
I saved this photo from October, 2012, at one of our first foster parent trainings. Our amazing trainers, knowing that it would be a long day of sitting, provided us with doodle paper, fidgets, and gum to help us stay engaged with the training. This is what Mr. Bean doodled that day. <3
In the past 2 1/2 years, we have had three foster placements (i.e. children), and adopted one of the three I mentioned … he is now officially our Little Bean. The two who were eventually moved (one was reunified with his family, and the other was moved to biological family members) will always be a part of us, and we may never stop missing them completely. But when I think about walk-running out of that fertility clinic years ago, and then I look at Little Bean (home with us since December, 2014, and formally adopted in February, 2016) and remember the other two very special kiddos who left an imprint on our hearts … there is no question in my mind about why I knew we needed to bail that day!
So, back to the present. In this current (post-adoptive) season of our family, we are enjoying our time with our son and NO SOCIAL WORKERS in our lives for the most part. HAHAHA! At least for now! (Note: social workers are amazing people! I just like having my house back to myself.) But seriously, … we are working on getting Little Bean solid before we decide what is next for us. I strongly believe that we are not finished here and that we have a lot left to give before we are done with our foster parenting journey. But now that we have Little Bean in tow, we have to think differently about taking on new placements. He comes to us with a history that he needs delicate assistance to work through, and we are 150% committed to meeting his needs as our first priority.
Random facts about our journey:
- all of our placements (children) have come to our home on less than four hours’ notice
- all of our placements thus far have occurred on a Tuesday (random, I know!)
- despite what you may think, now that we have finalized Little Bean’s adoption, we had no sense of that ultimate outcome when we, with trepidation, once again said “yes” to our social worker
- we have had one major, and several minor, disappointments with placements falling through
Along the way, I will probably share more with you about our family. My hope is that in some small way, I can de-mystify the foster parent experience for you and encourage you to consider how you can help foster kids, who after all, are in this heartbreaking situation due to no fault of their own.
Next post will be back to a light-hearted kitchen-ey nature, as I believe I owe you some information about kombucha second ferments! 🙂