From Literally, Darling: Why I Want To Be A Foster Parent

The following was originally published on literallydarling.com and can be found here.

Pretty much anyone who knows me knows that, more than anything, I want to be a mom one day. Of course, I also want to fall in love, have a fulfilling career, travel more. But I think that, for whatever reason, I inherited the “mom gene.” Every child I see, on the street, in a store, on T.V., I just feel such a strong pull towards them—I want to love them, even though I don’t know them. I do love them. I love every child I’ve ever babysat, worked with, been somewhat related to. I just love them all, so much.

With that cheesiness in mind, it’s not hard to believe that I spend an embarrassingly large portion of my free time imagining my life as a mother. Well, I’m actually not embarrassed about that, because it’s part of who I am. But it is a lot of time. And because I’ve watched too much TV, part of those daydreams involve what I would do if I couldn’t get pregnant. I’ve seen “Baby Mama,” and while it remains one of my favorite movies and I completely respect women who choose surrogacy, I know that isn’t for me.

Of course, I want to adopt, no matter what. I’ve known that since I was a child and first read “Matilda”—I wanted to be someone’s Miss Honey. I still do. And while adopting is a great thing, admirable and noble, I still feel like even after that, after having my own kids even, I’d have more love to give.

And I know, there are actual mothers out there, with their own children, who are shaking their heads, saying “just you wait.” And I get it, being a mom is hard. It’s a total cliché, but it is the hardest job in the world. I get that, and I don’t take that lightly. I know that I can’t even imagine the amount of stress and exhaustion that will consume me once I become a mother. But if I could choose the source of my stress, I think I’d choose a child. So I’m OK with the inevitable.

So, I daydream about having children. I picture myself spending days cooking, driving them places, cleaning up toddler messes, even changing diapers. And then, I think about all the children whose situations aren’t normal. Who don’t get adopted. Who are older, almost out of the system, but still in desperate need of some good, old-fashioned love.

According to the most recent data, there are more than 400,000 children currently in the American foster care system. These are children whose home lives aren’t ideal, or really even safe. So they’ve been taken away. The reasons for this are numerous, and while 51 percent of the children who leave foster care do get reunited with their families, that still leaves a substantial amount who do not. There are runaways, emancipation, moving in with distant relatives. There really aren’t a lot of good options once in the foster care system. One of the more common, and yet still not that great, endings for a foster child is when they age out of the system. This basically means that they turn 18 without having found a forever family, therefore they have no real ties.

And while I could give you a handful of statistics about what happens to foster kids who have aged out, their chances at graduating from high school or college, that’s not the point. The point is that I don’t think that has to happen. (But if you want some fast facts, here you go.) I don’t necessarily know what exactly my future looks like, but I do know that once I have some stability, am safe in my finances, and feel ready, I am going to open up my home (and yes, prepare for the cheese) and my heart to a foster child. Someone who is in danger of aging out, who hasn’t felt as wanted as the adorable toddler getting all the attention. I want to share my love with someone who so desperately deserves it.

I want to be a foster parent for so many reasons. I want to make a difference, I want to give someone hope. I want to know that I used my resources, space, home, heart, family to the best of their abilities. I know that it won’t be easy, and that there is no way I could ever be fully prepared for what will happen, but I know I want to be a foster parent. The thought of someone, anyone, turning 18 without anyone out there who cares about them kills me. It tugs at my heartstrings so much that if I had the money, I’d sign up to do it right now! But I don’t. So I’ll wait. I’ll live my life, and I’ll save my money, and I’ll prepare. Because one day, my home will be the place where love could never age out.

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