This weekend I had the absolute privilege of attending the Entrusted Network Conference, an annual weekend for foster and adoptive parents in the Hampton Roads area. I heard about it from two different people, and when I looked up the premise I was hooked. I know a few friends who have adopted, but I know nobody personally who is fostering children…more on that later. I immediately thought of another friend who we actually met at our adoption training and she came with me - it’s always better to bring a friend along to these things! I had pretty high expectations for the weekend, so I didn’t know how it would turn out.
Honestly, the conference far exceeded my expectations. The main speaker, Kyle Raney, has an incredible story involving 6 biological kids and 3 internationally adopted children…a story that is still unfolding and through which he is still processing. We had a few main sessions, three breakout sessions, and other events throughout, like a panel of adoptees (people who were adopted at some point in their childhood) to answer questions and talk about what their experiences were like. It’s different for everyone, but there were some common themes that tracked throughout.
As excited as I was about the education I knew would happen, I was just as much looking forward to meeting and connecting with other families in the same stage of life as we are. I am thankful to have single friends, married friends, and mom friends, and adding friends who have adopted or are fostering is yet another blessing on top of that. There are some things you just can’t get until you’ve been through them, and being surrounded by other people who just get it is something I do not take for granted. Community can mean the world during good and bad times.
This brings me to a big life change coming up. The truth is, I did not attend this conference primarily because we adopted Willow. Of course I learned a lot about good strategies to raise her as a secure child in her adoption, but the main reason I went is this: Nathan and I started the process of becoming foster parents back in August.
Yes, you read that right - we hope to foster children and are currently getting approved to do just that. We found an agency called Braley and Thompson to work with, went through a couple weekends of training, and are finishing up our third home study in just a few short years. The process is, of course, slow, but we anticipated that and aren’t in a huge rush - it’ll happen when it happens!
I know that this will be a more difficult journey than I can imagine. I know we don’t know what we are stepping into in a lot of ways. So I knew that we would need resources, education, and a community. I knew I would need to learn what to expect, and I wanted to do as much as possible before we brought a child home.
We are excited and nervous about jumping into the unknown yet again in a big, life-changing way. But this is our next step, this is our calling, and we are walking into it as prepared as we can be while knowing we still have so much to learn.
Any questions? Leave a comment…I would love to answer them as you begin this journey along with us!