Once Thanksgiving break was over, we knew that it would only be a short amount of time before we got an adoption placement call. Our social worker told us that the agency was very excited about getting kids into our home, and our phone would be ringing off the hook! After all, there are so many kids who are in need of a permanent home!
We did start to get phone calls, but they were not adoptive placements, but respite placements. Respite is when foster parents give other foster parents a break, or offer childcare if a foster family needs to go out-of-state. Respite placements can also sometimes be to evaluate whether a child and a family will be a good fit for a long-term placement, such as an adoptive placement.
We had two respite placements before Christmas, and enjoyed them both immensely. But any long-term sort of arrangement was not available, and as we approached Christmas, we recognized that our hopes of having a child in our home for Christmas were not going to be realized.
We also began to hear from other foster families about their experience with adoption. Some adoptive families had been taking respite placements for years, in the hopes that they would eventually get an adoptive placement. Unfortunately, it seemed that the philosophy that “children are best raised by their birth parents” was more ingrained into the fabric of the foster-to-adopt system than I thought. We began to see a different picture of the world of adopting through foster care. Birth parent rights were so heavily weighted against foster parent rights that I began to realize that Ken and I had a fundamental difference from the Department of Children’s Services (who oversees Youth Villages) in how we believed children should be protected and raised.
Disappointed in our new findings and our empty home, we decided to spend Christmas on the beach in Florida. Away from Tennessee, away from the adoption world, away from just about everything — except our laptops and our dogs. We needed to think and pray about where God was leading us.