Fostering

Conrad and I have talked a few times about adopting. In my own mind, it was always in the setting of after we had moved to a state where gay marriage was legal and then we could adopt as a married couple.

But, I just started looking into adoption (mostly just to learn about it, because I know there's lots to know on the subject).  As I was doing so, I came across sites about foster care, so I started looking into that.  I think that (assuming we can find an agency that will let gay people foster) it would be good for us to foster a child while we're here in Tennessee.

I found a website that has a list of children with their bios and some even have videos where the children are being interviewed.  So, of course, I had to read several of the bios and watch the videos.  I just want to love all of these children.  Children are so wonderful.  They're full of energy and love--they want to love and they need love.  And they each have their own personality.

The little bit that I have read about and studied so far has been very educational, and watching videos of parents who have fostered or adopted as well as videos of children in the foster care program have really helped me get a better understanding of what it's all about.  I'm embarrassed to say that at first, I was just worried about whether the agency would be okay with entrusting a gay couple with care of a child, but now I can see that it's also important to make sure that the child is okay with it as well.

In some of the videos of the children that I watched, the child was asked something along the lines of "What's your idea of the perfect family?"  All of the ones I watched (naturally) stated that they wanted a mom and a dad.  One boy said that if he couldn't have a mom and dad that he'd prefer to have a dad because he felt like he'd be able to relate to a dad better (go do sportsy/outdoors things, etc).  So, it just made me realize that what the child wants is just as important as what the parents want.  We'd have to find a child that would be comfortable being raised by two dads.

As far as logistics go, I'm pretty sure that we wouldn't be able to adopt/foster a child together, but I think that (at least just while we're in Tennessee), if just one of us were the official parent that would be okay.  But, Tennessee does allow single people to adopt/foster, so that is definitely a possibility.  Truly, the only difference would be the legal status on paper and stuff, we'd still both be parents to the child.

I also have no idea how long this process takes.  I know that you need to attend several hours of training before you can foster, and have a full background check and everything.  Fortunately, neither of us have any criminal record at all--maybe some traffic violations, but I don't think that'll be an issue.  But I really don't know if it would be like weeks or months or what.  After watching all of those videos, I want to go out right now and pick up a child and start fostering him.  I know it doesn't work like that, but I want so much to make a difference in someone's life.  If I can provide love and shelter for a child that otherwise might grow up on the street and likely get involved with crime because of it, I want to do so.  I don't think I'll be the best parent available, but I do think that I can love a child and provide for his needs.  (Okay, I'd be open to raising a girl as well, but my preference would be a boy.)

I'm also scared because I don't know anything about raising a child.  Sure, I've spent tons of time around my nieces and nephews.  I've even changed a fair amount of diapers and fed a good amount of bottles and Gerber food too.  But, I've never had one of my own--one to take care of all day long every day, year after year.  I don't know what to do in every situation.  I don't know what to expect.  There's just so much I don't know.  (I'm thinking this is part of the reason for the mandatory training meetings.)  But, I think that if I just admit that I don't know and try to do the best I can, rather than trying to be perfect and think that I'll never make any parenting mistakes, that things will work out.  Sure, there'll be hard times.  There may be times when I'm really upset with my child or they're really upset with me.  But, I have hope that we'll work through it.  I think it will be alright in the end.

Why do I want to foster?  I want to make a difference in the world.  I want to improve my community.  There are places where I can go volunteer to help out in the nursery, and that would be a good experience for me.  Maybe it could be practice for being a parent.  Maybe I'll just do that while we're here in Tennessee and then wait until we move to adopt or foster.  I'm not sure.  But I've been hungry for a baby ever since I was dating Karen back in 2005.  Here I am 7 years later with nothing to show.  I need to be a daddy.  I need to be a role model.  I need to make a difference in someone's life.