Tucked between acres of farmland...
Becoming a foster parent can be daunting for anyone. It can be extremely difficult for members of the LGBTQ community who often face discrimination on their parenthood journey. Newly licensed foster parents Tim and Ken spoke with us about their experience fostering as a same-sex couple.
Q: What inspired you to become foster parents?
Ken: Tim and I have always wanted kids. We talked about it very early in our relationship. For same-sex couples, to have kids you have two options – surrogacy or adoption. Because I was adopted, I felt a calling to be able to foster because there are so many kiddos in this world right now who already exist and need a home. For me, it felt close to home to be able to provide opportunities for someone else.
Q: What was your biggest obstacle in the foster care/adoption process?
Tim: The process has been smooth for us. It’s just a very long one! We had two home studies, we attended PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information Development and Education) training and we provided more financials than when we bought our house. It was an intense process, and we didn’t know it was going to be like that. There weren’t any roadblocks or hurdles; it was just a long process.
Q: If you could choose one word to describe your experience, what would it be?
Tim: The word for me is ‘rollercoaster.’ I think we hear stories of other people’s experience and you never really understand or empathize until you go through it yourself. For us, it was really quick. A month after we were certified, we had already received our first call for placement. That placement didn’t work out and it broke our hearts because we were really excited. Then we got a call about Jane two days later. It’s been such a rollercoaster of emotions — you have the joys of parenting on one hand and then you have the heartbreak of potentially not being able to be her forever family.
Ken: I would say, ‘life-changing.’ We’ve never been parents before. It alters your life, especially when caring for a newborn. There’s a lot of effort that goes into fostering a newborn child. The child is very dependent on us as foster parents and needs a lot of care. Being a man, you don’t get a ton of time off from your job when caring for a new foster child. I’ve had to balance work and caring for a new child.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as a same-sex foster parents?
Tim: There weren’t too many challenges. The biggest thing we had was deciding what we should have Jane name call us? It was cool because we happened to get her shortly before mother’s day. So we were trying to decide which person gets which holiday. It’s a good problem to have. In essence, because there aren’t many traditions for LGBT parents, you get to make up your own traditions.
Q: Do you have any words of encouragement or advice for those in the LGBTQ community who are interested in adoption but don’t know where to start?
Tim: When we started this journey more than a year ago, we talked to other members of the LGBTQ community who tried fostering a while ago and it wasn’t very encouraging. Others spoke about their struggles and I don’t know if times have changed, but that wasn’t our experience at all. We being LGBT made no difference. Our case worker just wanted to match the children up with good homes. Anybody who is looking into foster care, they should dive in with both feet. We haven’t had any road blocks and nothing but positive experiences.
Q: What’s been one of your favorite family memories so far?
Ken: We knew about Jane on the second day of her life, but because of COVID-19, we weren’t able to get her from the hospital right away. When we finally got the call from Ashley that we were approved to get Jane from the hospital, we were very excited and had a ton of energy. When we picked her up from the hospital, only one of us could go in because of COVID-19 restrictions. I think the coolest thing was when I brought the baby to the car and seeing Tim’s face light up from excitement. Our favorite memory was definitely our first day with the baby and the excitement from bringing her home from the hospital.
Tim: Everyone was excited — even our dog! I have never seen our dog so happy! Her tail was wagging so aggressively, I thought it was going to fall off!
Q: What are some of your favorite resources you can recommend for new foster parents?
Tim: As a foster parent, the best resource for us was the MCHS foster support group. We meet every Wednesday but they’re really good. Even if you don’t have any questions, they have good discussions and you learn a lot. It’s not easy being a foster parent (that may be the understatement of the century) but nobody knows what it’s like for other foster parents. That was the best resource for us.
Ken: Being connected with other foster families who are going through similar experiences and having the support to foster with other foster families. You can truly confide in each other because you’re going through similar experiences.
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