If someone would have told me 10 years ago that I’d be married to my high school sweetheart and have two kids at 25, I would have said, “You’re nuts.” But, that’s exactly what happened. I met my husband in the summer of 2008. We were 17 and just about to start our senior year of high school. We attended different high schools, enrolled in different colleges and pursued completely different career paths. Through it all, we had each other and in 2014, we were married!
While several of our friends started their families, we adopted animals instead. We had adopted three dogs, two cats and welcomed in a constant stream of foster pets. Two years into our marriage and 100+ foster animals later, we were feeling restless. The kids topic was being brought up pretty frequently, but having a baby just was not something I wanted to pursue.
Over our years together we had always talked about foster care and adoption—but it was always a long-term plan. As in, maybe in our 30s we’ll pursue adopting ONE child. Two years into our marriage and 25 years old? Well, that’s just too soon! But for some reason, it just felt right.
One of our foster dogs was adopted to a social worker, Kristi, that worked in foster care and adoption. At the time, I joked that one day she’d help us adopt a child (notice again, one child) now that we helped her find her perfectly imperfect dog. She and I became fast friends and over the years, I probably threw 500+ questions about foster care and adoption at her. Naturally, she’s the first person I went to with “Hey, so I think Brad and I want to start fostering…thoughts?”
Through Kristi’s guidance and after doing some research (aka A LOT of googling and blog reading), we landed on LSS as a foster care agency. In our minds, we had so many roadblocks:
- We are 25 and have no idea how to parent.
- We both work full time.
- I travel A LOT for work.
- We also vacation a lot.
- We have 3 very large dogs, two cats and a consistent rotation of foster pets.
After weeks of deliberation, I finally just contacted LSS and asked if we could sit down with someone to learn about foster care. Here, we learned all our perceived roadblocks were really just minor speed bumps. Major lesson? If you have ANY interest in foster care and adoption, just take the leap and get more information.
Over the next five months, we worked steadily on our required training and home visits. When we reached our final approval, we anxiously waited for our first placement. In my mind, we’d have kids instantly! In reality, it took a few months to find the right fit for our home and work life. Then on a cold November day, we finally got the phone call that worked out. Our caseworker sent us the referral for two kids (see how quickly we jumped from ONE to TWO?): a 6-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl. They had been in foster care for over a year and through no fault of their own, they needed a new, long-term, foster home.
We welcomed Ashley and Alfonso into our family right before Christmas in 2016. It was a whirlwind to go from a family of two to a family of four with school-age children. Six months into our foster care journey, parental rights were terminated, and we moved forward in our adoption process. It took another full year for their adoption to be finalized (and a huge roller coaster of emotions) but when the day finally arrived, our friends and family filled the courtroom and we celebrated like crazy.
Let’s take a look at our “roadblocks” one more time:
1. We were 25 and had no idea how to parent.
Not even an issue. Does anyone really know what they’re doing? We’ve managed just fine! You also have a huge support system with LSS throughout the entire process.
2. We both worked full time.
Also not an issue. We have before- and after-school care lined up.
3. I travel A LOT for work.
This was hard on everyone at first. The kids would go through major behavior issues when I’d leave, but after a few months, they realized I will always come back. Now it doesn’t even impact them at all.
4. We also vacation a lot.
While we can’t jet off to random destinations anymore, we do still take several trips a year. We just bring the kids with! We’ve taken them all over the country and they love it! On the trips they can’t attend, we have amazing family members that step up and help us out.
5. We have 3 very large dogs, two cats and a consistent rotation of foster pets.
Our animals were a big adjustment for Ashley and Alfonso. They had never been around pets before and were terrified of our dogs and one of our cats in the beginning. It took a long time for them to feel comfortable and as parents, we are constantly managing their interactions still today. However, they now LOVE animals and have the biggest hearts. They also love to attend rescue events with us, are “Junior Dog Trainers,” and are the best kids interacting with dogs that I have ever seen!
Lesson: Our roadblocks were easily navigated to minor speed bumps.
Now, I won’t sugar coat this: foster care and adoption is a difficult journey in every way imaginable. You’ll learn who your true friends and family members are, find your support network and soak it all in. You will get the hard looks from community members, rude questions from just about everyone and questioned constantly on your parenting styles. We have made mistakes, fallen down and thought “What are we doing?!” at least one million times. However, I would not trade the last two years for anything. Most importantly, we have learned from our mistakes, brought ourselves back up and have loved each other unconditionally…and we still ask ourselves “What are we doing?!” I don’t think that will ever change!
So here we are, 27 years old with two kids that are 8 and 10. We have three rescue dogs, two rescue cats, and one rescued guinea pig thanks to my daughter (Another lesson: don’t take home the class pet over spring break, it will be coming home for good after school is out). Our lives revolve around our kids and their hectic schedules and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We don’t know what our future holds, but we have each other and that’s all that matters!
So to my fellow millennials—what do your perceived roadblocks look like? Are they actual roadblocks or are they minor speed bumps? Our generation is changing the world every day. Why not change the world for kids that need a safe, stable and loving home? Take the leap and get more information. You never know where it might take you.
About the Author: Kelly started her foster care journey in 2016 and finalized the adoption of Ashley and Alfonso in 2018. Kelly is still fostering! When she’s not busy playing chauffeur, Kelly enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and volunteering for Doberman Rescue Minnesota.Learn More About Foster CareLearn More About Foster Care Adoption