November 23, 2016
“We will walk into the courtroom when they call our case, and you will stand by me. When the judge asks who is present, just say Foster Mom.”
“I found a medical baby for you.”
“Remember that this is their baby, and it is always best for a baby to be with his or her biological parents if that is possible.”
“You are only looking at this from one way, which is forgetting that God’s Will will be done with or without you.”
These are quotes from the beautiful people of our placing agency, The Anna’s House Foundation. They are like an anchor in the very real turmoil of foster care. Their management of biological parent visits, DHS caseworkers, court dates, documentation, continuing education, etc. has allowed us to navigate the process with confidence, knowing we have experienced people working right alongside us. They are available when we need them, whatever time of day or night that might be, with unceasing patience.
Victor Lee Austin writes of his wife Susan in his book Losing Susan, and her work to protect and serve children (both in writing opposition pieces about abortion and in fostering babies), that “her analysis of the community’s relationship to the individual is that there are no individuals without communities. And so there can be private choices, but only because the community has allowed it to be so. Susan also knew that it was important for people who believed as we did not only to try to persuade by words but also to live accordingly and to offer our own lives in service.” The founders of The Anna’s House Foundation were people who had walked a NICU road with a tiny baby not their own; a baby who quite simply was dying. It all started one day when a DHS caseworker took a chance and reached out to a friend. That one friend, supported by the community of her family and church, moved into the NICU room and held that baby until she was thriving. The little girl’s name is Anna, and her foundation is now much more than a support network for foster parents caring for newborns and infants, it is an agency that DHS turns to for placement of children in Christian homes with families who will give them life. Because The Anna’s House Foundation works both to place children and to walk alongside their foster parents, their people are offering their own lives in service to the fatherless. We do not foster alone, but rather as a part of a community, of which Anna’s House has become the center.
Before becoming a foster parent, I had never walked into a courtroom, I didn’t know what the Fostering Hope Clinic was, I had never had a surprise visit from a DHS caseworker. People in my life were generally honest people, and the children I spent time with had lives similar to the lives of my own children. As foster parents, we take care of the daily needs of children in our home, and we get to advocate for them in many other ways, but we have tremendous support in this! Answering questions, providing for needs, standing with us, and advocating for us and for our children, Anna’s House's support is vital to our success, and by extension to the success of our foster children. We care for children who, by the very nature of being separated from their parents, are different than our biological children, and that can be very hard. Through their training, constant availability, and communication with DHS, we are spared the anxious fear of walking unknown experiences alone, and we are ever grateful for their support and sacrifice—but the support is only a small part of what they do.