After fostering for nearly three years, we know what we are looking for in an adopted child. We are looking for 1 or 2 kids between the ages of 0-3, who do not have extensive medical or disability issues. We would want to support any child we adopt with therapy as they grow up so they can work through any issues of isolation, abandonment, or other topics that might arise from having two families or not looking like their parents. We do not care at all what the kids look like, as long as they are healthy. Our last foster children were multi-cultural, and even though they are young and probably do not fully realize how different we look, I am proud to stand beside them and have their friends call me their mom.
We have had great experiences working with the birth families for the most part. We have always been open to sibling contact as well as spending time with relatives whenever possible. In fact, we would love it if there was some contact with birth relatives, as we would want our future children to know more about their background, where they came from and what the situation was. It is always better to know the full story than to fill in the gaps with your own worst imaginations.
We met twelve years ago and have been inseparable ever since. We both work full-time, but have been fortunate to find jobs that we love with colleagues we enjoy, and with schedules that can be flexible when needed. But we also know life isn't about punching a timecard - we prioritize family time, vacations, and our local community to ensure we create and maintain connections and memories.
We both love to host guests, whether they are relatives or neighbors. We consistently have neighborhood block parties to bring together the community on Pacific Street, and we will be the first to break the ice if we are camping next to a couple who look like they could use a glass of wine. Our days are busy, but at night we like to cook a meal together and we usually watch a short show. We are also expert card players, so love to share a bottle of wine, turn on some music and start an epic game of canasta. Aaron loves kung fu movies and anything with Steven Seagal while Lyndi is happy to watch the Bachelor or some equally terrible reality show. We rarely agree on movies, so if we do go see one we will try to hit the second-run theaters since one of us will likely not be impressed.
We are too frugal to eat out a lot, but like to use a restaurant meal for special occasions. We cannot wait to take our foster kids and future kids on hikes, bike rides, camping trips and explore the outdoors, as these are things we fill up our weekends with.
We live in a cozy three-bedroom home in Portland, Oregon. When the home isn't filled with foster kids, we enjoy time to ourselves and with friends and neighbors. We live across the street from a university that offers a lot of room for playing in the fields and riding bikes in the quiet parking lots. Just a 10 minute walk away (or 20 minutes with little kid steps) is a public playground with a swimming pool open during the summer. We are fortunate to live in a quiet neighborhood with lots of young children on the street. Our backyard corners two other families with young children, and we regularly pass the kids back and forth over the fences so they can play together.
The local elementary school is less than a mile away, and shops and restaurants are also close, making it a very walkable and bikeable neighborhood.
Our past foster children have enjoyed the parks and community centers that are so close, as well as playing with all the kids that live nearby. Portland has a great summer activity schedule, so taking kids to day camps, outdoor movies and outdoor pools fills a lot of our summer days and nights.
As foster parents for nearly three years, we have parented a variety of ages, genders, interests and behaviors. Oregon's DHS system provided over 30 hours of initial training, but of course the real training comes with your first placement.
Our first placement was a newborn, so we had the joy of bottle-feeding hourly each night, which we truly loved. We next took in a one-year old who was very active and busy, and were fortunate to witness first steps, first words, and to really watch him develop a personality and sense of humor after a rough start in life.
Our next placement was much more difficult, a sibling set ages 3 and 5 that had experienced neglect, abuse, and multiple placements. Behavior issues were a huge concern, so we hired a parenting coach right away to help walk us through what we could do to better serve these little kids that had already experienced so much trauma.
Lyndi's work schedule allowed her to attend a 16-week parenting class specifically designed to help parents of children with behavior issues, and Aaron was able to get the kids into regular therapy appointments. With all the training, coaching and education, the two kids' behavior rapidly improved, and they were truly a joy to be around.
Outside of fostering, we are a very experienced aunt and uncle! From both sides of the family we have six nieces and nephews as well as step-relatives that we get to teach card and ball games to.
Of course, the best teacher is life. We have dealt with a myriad of issues from the regular challenges of a newborn, to self-harm in young children, to night terrors to rages. Through it all we know consistency, clear expectations, regular praise and setting good examples can steer children in the right direction. It takes time, but it has been incredible to watch the kids overcome so much and live happy and well adjusted lives.
We have the best families! Aaron's family lives mostly on the east coast, but we have reunions every summer and we get to see them every other Christmas. Lyndi's family is all within 3 hours of Portland, so we get regular time with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins alike.
They all know how important family is to us, and they support us in any way they can. They have treated our foster children like their own nieces and nephews, celebrating their birthdays, school achievements, and taking enormous interest in the latest dinosaur or bracelet they have.
Lyndi's mom became a CASA when we got into fostering to better support us and help children and families at the same time. She understands the difficulties of the foster care system and has been a great resource for helping us see the other side of many dilemmas we have faced.
With nearly 3 years of fostering experience, we have a very good understanding of what services exist in Portland and when and how we should use them. We both know the importance of therapy for children, and have used play therapy extensively with our latest placement. We have also worked closely with school counselors, family services, parent coaches and other training services to not only help the children, but also to help us adapt to the new and constantly changing situations.
Our greatest affliction has also led to our greatest achievement, as these things paradoxically tend to happen. In an effort to have the close family that is so important to us and that we had always dreamed of, undiagnosed infertility introduced us to foster care. This has been excruciating since we have fallen in love with several kids that we have returned to their family; but we know that it is likely the single most important thing we will ever do.
If we have learned anything from fostering, it is that we are damn good at what we do. And it is not just taking in kids that we do not know and giving them a lovely home. We give them structure, we give them direction, we praise them when they do well and teach them when they do wrong.
We know that medical interventions could help us conceive, but we also know there are so many kids out there who need homes. We have endured hardship, stress, pain, loss, grief and overwhelming joy throughout the fostering process. So why are we doing adoption? Because we want a family. We love each other and could survive fine just the two of us, but we want to complete our family and give a child a stable and loving life.