Salute to Spouses Blog

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Foster care and the Military Family

During my husband’s last deployment, we went through some massive changes. The biggest was in October when we finally got the call we’d been waiting two years for – we had a baby girl to foster.  Now, eight months later, here we are, still fostering her, still buying an insane amount of hair bows.

But we’re also staring a PCS in the face four months from now. This isn’t just any PCS, it’s supposed to be our last, back to my home of record, where we’ll retire. We’ve been begging for this assignment for years, and now that we’re on orders, well, I’m terrified. Though we’ve had this little one for eight months, her future is anything but decided.

A question I often get as a foster parent, is whether military families are even allowed to foster. We’re living proof that we are. In fact, other than our slightly nomadic nature, I think military families are ideal foster parents. We have guaranteed, steady income, strong spouses who know how to adapt to change, and sturdy support networks around us that we’ve built through deployments.

But it’s this PCS thing that kicks us in the butt. I won’t lie, we’ve never been in this for fostering, but for adoption. So the first thought both my husband and I had when he received his RFO, was “We’re not leaving her.” It was the hardest, and easiest decision we’ve ever made.

We’re so often split apart due to deployments, trainings and schools, that it’s almost unfathomable to consider living separately by choice, especially when we have no clue how long it will take, or if she’ll inevitably come with us. We sat the boys down and asked them their thoughts.  After all, she was just a tiny snippet of a baby when she came to us, and eight months later, she is as much their sister as blood could be.

We explained that Daddy would move to Colorado, and we would stay behind here until their sister was clear to come with us, or not. We pointed out that there was a chance she wouldn’t be able to come at all, that maybe she’d live with her biological family. They unanimously said they’d take the chance, and stay here, just for the chance to keep their sister. I’ve never been more proud of our little men, nor have I ever doubted my parenting more than at that moment, asking them to give up so much.

The thing about foster parenting as a military family is that we have two huge factors in our life over which we have no control. Good thing we’ve learned to bend instead of break. I think, as a parent, foster or biological, we make sacrifices for our children. We think of them first in all things, because they are what matters. In this case, I wouldn’t abandon any of my boys here if they legally couldn’t move with us, and I won’t leave her either.

So, now comes the hard part: putting our money where our mouth is. Selling our house and moving into a rental so we’re ready to go whenever she is … or isn’t. Now we prep for every inevitable scenario, because we’re learning that as much as nothing is certain in the army, that’s even more true in foster care.

We’re preparing to separate our family in order to keep our family. It’s complicated, and yet so simple when I really think about it. We knew this was a possibility when we went through the screening process to be foster parents, so just like Jason’s army career, we hang on and wait for news.

Besides, what fun would a PCS move be if you didn’t have giant hurdles to leap?

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