Licensed: Following one family into foster care - Post #1 Meet the Parents
Meet Brittany and Andy B. Brittany is one of my oldest friends. At 19, I became her youth leader, and she became my living, breathing 13 year old shadow. She tagged along with with me wherever I went and quickly became as much of a friend and mentor to me as I was to her. Her quiet demeanor (I’m usually described as “outgoing” or “loud,” but I’ve been called much worse), super sweet spirit (If we’re naming flavors here, I would be better described as “spicy”), and six year age difference (I was engaged, she had braces) made us unlikely but fast friends. Besides talking about God, friends, parents, and school, I was also one of the only people who knew of her undying love for Mr. Andy B.
I’ve known Andy for almost 20 years. When we met in 1997, I was a 13 year old girl, he was a 7 year old boy. I was his older sisters’ best friend, he was their annoying little brother. I guess we never really recovered from our 7 and 13 year old first impressions because we really only share a connection through Britt. Well, that and the fact that I’m pretty sure we’re the same person. Andy and I share the most random list of interests from Broadway musicals to Batman and have almost identical opinions on every political and social issue on the table. So while we’ve never been the greatest of friends, we probably should be.
Andy is also my living, breathing hope for my four year old son. Anyone who knew Andy at age four compares him to my boy. When my husband recalls four year old Andy, it’s not very complimentary: “Andy was a maniac. He used to just walk up and kick you in the shins for no reason at all.” As far as I know, Andy has not pulled any random shin-kicking for quite some time and has grown into a fairly well-adjusted, peaceful man. This is my great hope for my own maniac shin-kicker.
Britt and Andy have have been married for three years and have a beautiful nine month old little boy. They could, almost certainly, have more biological children and continue on the typical path most newly married couples follow, but they’ve been compelled to pursue something else. Add to the list of reasons I love Brittany and things that Andy and I have in common: Britt and Andy are becoming foster parents.
Many of my readers have asked questions about becoming licensed as foster parents, so Britt and Andy have volunteered to allow me to follow them through their licensing process. They've signed on to become the first official Foster the Family “reality blog” stars. You can just call them the Kardashians.
On Sunday, Britt and Andy met me before church to talk about their new adventure. I pulled out my iphone and held it up to their mouths in my best Christiane Amanpour impression (full disclosure: I only know that name because of Gilmore Girls). It all felt very important and official, I nearly forgot I was just a lowly blogger and not an important CNN investigative reporter (CNN tidbit courtesy of Rory Gilmore).
We talked about Britt’s heart for adoption and how she revealed this burden to Andy early in their relationship (the combination of him being super smitten with Britt and super passionate about living for Jesus made him open to the idea). We talked about how Andy’s job at an alternative high school built his heart for kids who don’t have strong parents or any parents at all. We talked about their desire to eventually adopt siblings, so that they could "protect them" by keeping them together. We talked about the different ways they believe God has burdened and equipped them for transracial adoption (everything from Britt’s ability to care for African American hair to Andy’s passion for racial reconciliation).
I then asked them about what is certainly the most difficult part of foster care. I asked them how prepared they were for a child to come into their home and eventually leave. Their words were so profound, that I’m just going to leave them right here and drop the mic for them:
“We don’t have the grace for it now, so we can’t really prepare for it. We know that God’s shaping our family. It would be so hard to have to give up a child, but in a sense, even with M. [their bio son], we’re only his stewards. God gave him to us to parent for however long we have him, to treasure and love him as our son, but he’s not entirely ours...God is in control of him. It would be so heart-breaking to lose a child, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it, just because there’s a risk. We’re going to go forward in faith in the way we feel like God is taking us.”
At this point, I may have jumped up in the air, pointed in their faces and yelled, “That’s direct quote content right there.” Very Christiane Amanpour of me, no?
I’m excited for you to experience the foster care licensing process vicariously through Britt and Andy. Over the next 4-12 months (let’s be real, it could be either of those numbers), I hope to share with you both their licensing experience and their thoughts and struggles throughout the process. I pray that their love for God, great wisdom, enthusiasm for foster care, and willingness to become human guinea pigs serve those of you who may be considering becoming licensed as foster parents. Or maybe even inspire those of you who never have.
Reader, meet Britt and Andy. Britt and Andy, meet Reader. Consider yourself introduced.