helping hands

Our foster care application for an infant with special needs

Today I received a voice text from a friend who commented on how it seems that something is leading us in the direction of helping newborn infants with Trisomy 21 whose families don’t want to keep them.

She was referring to my involvement with Baby M in addition to my posting several days ago on Facebook about another baby girl with T21 who was waiting in the hospital for a foster family.  In that case, I was contacted by four different people within a short period and was in contact with a social worker who verified that baby happily has found a home.

I’ve heard it said that you don’t choose your mission but that your mission chooses you.  I can’t say that this is my mission.  I certainly haven’t sought it out.  But it’s interesting that these situations came to me without me soliciting them in any way.  For whatever reason, different people thought that we could be of help, though I never indicated any specific interest or desire to do this.

My lack of expressed interest about it wasn’t due to a concern or willingness.  In fact, it was two days before someone called us about Baby M, after weeks of discussion with my husband and children, that I spoke with a foster care agency representative and told them we wanted to apply as a foster family for an infant with T21.  No one who contacted me knew anything about that, though!

I don’t like to talk about things until there’s something to talk about and hence haven’t shared about this.  However, the application process has have been humming along in the background, and I decided today to share this with you.

The application process to become a foster parent takes about 3 – 4 months.  At the end of last week we completed our foster care application for children with special needs.   (This is a different track than fostering children who don’t have special needs.)  In Israel, fostering a child with special needs is a long term commitment – until the age of 21.

The application process included medical checks, bloodwork, extensive paperwork, criminal checks on everyone in our family over the age of 18, and several visits by a social worker to our home (including meeting with our youngest six children and discussing fostering with them) and a tour of our home.

The meetings with the social worker were pleasant and she told us at the end of our final visit that it had been very inspiring for her to  meet us.  Which was of course nice to hear but trying to impress her wasn’t something we set out to do.  I think she got an accurate idea of who we are and how we parent, and I’m glad of that.  (She also told me she can’t understand how I don’t have a clothes dryer and every time she does laundry for her two children she now thinks of me! :))

She asked each child their thoughts on fostering.  Ds7 told her it would be nice to have another person in our family.  “But you have so many people in your family already,” she protested.  Ds7: “It’s not so many – it feels like we’re a pretty small family!” :)  It really does feel like that to us sometimes!

At this point we’re waiting for the final approval of our application, which we were told to expect will take 2 – 4 weeks.  My younger kids have asked several times, “When are we getting a baby???” and I’ve explained to them it’s not like a store that has babies stocked and you pick one off the shelf!  If a baby is born who matches our profile, we’ll be contacted.  This could take a very short or very long time.

I don’t feel any urgency about this.  We’ve done what we can to be positioned to help if there’s an opportunity to help, in a way that is aligned with our values.  If our help in this way is called upon or not  isn’t up to us!  My preference is that every child with T21 will be born to a family who will love and cherish him – that would clearly be the best scenario.  I’d really rather not be needed!

If it does happen that there’s a situation in which there’s an infant who needs a home and we’re able to offer that, then of course you’ll hear about it.  But don’t wait with bated breath – as I said, it could be a long time!

Avivah

10 thoughts on “Our foster care application for an infant with special needs

  1. Aviva Yishar Koach ,You are amazing beyond words.What a Shlichot you have in this world. . May the Old Mighty give you and yours the Kochot to carry the load.

  2. It’s wonderful that you’re doing this. I work as a lawyer with parents and kids who are part of this process. Usually when things have gone badly or are going badly. Your family sounds like an ideal foster family. Loving, kind, and without expectations about how the process will go (messy, always messy!).

  3. As an adoptive mom, I totally understand how you don’t like being labeled an “inspiration”. It’s hard to explain, it just feels really weird to me. Do people say that to women who have gone through 40 hours of hard labor, and a C section (like DD’s birth mom)? I don’t feel like I’m doing anything heroic.

    “I’d really rather not be needed!” That sums it up perfectly. This whole post was beautifully written, clear, and profound. You have a real talent with words!

  4. Kol hakavod! I’m not in a position to foster now as I have an eight-month-old baby girl bh, but during our years of infertility before our baby was born, we discussed fostering several times. I’m curious — are you fluent in Hebrew, and if not did that get in the way? That’s the main reason why we didn’t really get up the nerve to do more than talk about it – we figured that being Anglo would be a huge strike against us.

    1. Hi, Rivka, welcome and mazel tov on your long awaited blessing! My Hebrew is good but our social worker spoke fluent English and we opted for the meetings to be in English. She also told us we could fill out the application in English if we preferred.

      She did want to know if our family was comfortable in Hebrew in case the infant’s birth parents wanted a Hebrew speaking environment for him; we told her we would be fine speaking Hebrew to an infant but wouldn’t change the language we spoke to everyone else, obviously! I think this wouldn’t be likely to be an issue in most cases, as it’s assumed the child will get Hebrew in school and having English at home is an asset.

      In terms of dealing with Hebrew speaking social workers, it would be different but my guess is since there’s a shortage of foster parents, they would probably be happy to add another nice stable family to the pool of available families. If at any point it became relevant, you can just ask them in a preliminary call if not being fluent Hebrew speakers if it would be a problem.

  5. I’m so excited to hear this! You have weathered so many challenges already and this will bring many more along the way. However, it will be so worth it! I look forward to reading about your new addition in the future. You will often hear about how “lucky” your new little one is to have you but the reality is that they will bring so much joy and blessing to you and your family that you will be the truly BLESSED ones.

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