Why these newlyweds opened their home to children in foster care
“I’ve thought about adopting since I was a little kid, but didn’t want to parent singly and wasn’t meeting anyone who met my standards of awesome parenting potential,” Meg said in December. “Then I met Jo! Very early in our relationship, we talked about our desire to have a family.”
After Meg and Joanna tied the knot in 2015, they quickly started thinking about growing their family. They knew that they both wanted to adopt, and began researching their options and reading books. They quickly realized they wanted to adopt an older youth.
“I’m especially interested in kids who are older and only a few years from timing out of the system with little support as they tackle the rest of their lives,” Meg said.
They both feel strongly that a need for a family doesn’t end when someone becomes legally an adult.
“I’m almost 40 and I still need my parents. I still call them when I have a good piece of news to share or when I’ve got questions about how the weed-whacker works,” Joanna said. “So even if these kids are 16 or 18 or 25, they still need grownups to check in with. They need to know that there is someone who will care about them now and in the future.”
Their research led them to contact Boys & Girls Aid, and soon after their adoption journey took a surprising path.
While they had dated for several years, they had only recently moved in together as newlyweds. This was a major transitional time in their lives, even more so because Meg had also just finished a graduate degree and was starting a challenging new job. They were trying to take on a lot at one time, so they decided to become respite foster care parents first as a way to gain more experience before becoming adoptive parents.
The newlyweds are learning how to balance the challenges of everyday life with being foster parents. It’s been a struggle at times dealing with all of the changes and stress, but they’ve learned a lot. They work together as a team and talk through decisions to make sure they’re on the same page.
“What’s challenging for us right now is that we may not have picked the best time to be doing this. But then I also think about how the timing isn’t great for these kids, either. The timing isn’t great for these families,” Joanna said. “It doesn’t seem there is ever really a good time to be involved in any capacity in the foster system. So you kind of have to do it anyway because you know it’s easier for you to change your plans than it is for these kids to change theirs.”
Despite the challenges that go along with being a foster parent, both agree that it’s highly rewarding.
Meg was surprised to find the youth who have the highest needs tend to be the ones she connects with the most. They try to impart life lessons that they’ve picked up over the years with the youth in their care.
“What’s rewarding is finding those little moments when you realize you’ve made an impact, no matter how small, in the lives of these kids and their families,” Joanna said. “Just these little glimmers of hope are enough to fend off some of the challenging parts.”