“After hearing a sermon series on ‘Being Too Comfortable,’ I and only I, started dreaming of what direction I should take my extra energy, time and resources. The dreams always ended in taking care of children. On the other hand, my husband would say ‘we aren’t comfortable, we have five kids ages 3-13,’ to which I agreed. Scheduling gets a little crazy with maneuvering children, work and play, while still hoping the world keeps spinning…in the right direction.
We initially invited a local foster care agency to our home for ‘just a talk,’ which lead to ‘just some paperwork,’ ‘just some fingerprinting,’ ‘just some background checks,’ and ultimately leading to a calling we love and embrace – foster parenting. We were licensed in August of 2011 and while we have only had a few kids pass through our doors, our family has been gifted with many relationships we now call great friendships. Of course, the road to friendship is not always comfortable, but very rewarding.
Our five biological kids range in age from 14-24. We adopted our sixth child in 2012. Our ‘bonus kids’ have ranged in age from 2-17, with three sibling groups of two and several of them being preteen and teenagers.
A different type of energy and determination is required to foster teenagers.
It is constant ‘eagle-eye’ and making sure you are prepared for the next statement or action. For the most part, we raise our foster children the same way we raise our own children; however, we don’t always know what they have been exposed to and what they may consider to be ‘normal.’ Over the years we have learned they generally come from broken homes and that our home is not considered by them to be their home. I remember one fall day literally arguing with one of our teens the entire day. We finally decided to agree to disagree, but the rules remained the same and it was decided that Dana will not waiver when it comes to doing the right thing. Our strategy is mostly day by day: reviewing, regrouping, learning from mistakes, and moving forward.
In the last eleven years, we have never declined or hesitated to accept a placement of any age as you never know what you are capable of doing until you try.
We’ve been rewarded with the majority of our children returning to their biological parents or moving to their adoptive homes. I have a good friend who was pregnant with triplets and when asked, ‘How will you ever care for three babies?’ her reply was always, ‘I don’t know, never had three babies before.’
It’s the same with foster parenting…study it, attempt to be prepared, have a mentor, reach out to other foster parents, live day by day. When we were fostering our now adoptive child I remember saying, ‘I can’t do this another day,’ and my husband would say, ‘we’ll call the agency tomorrow.’ Then the next day I’d say, ‘well we got through yesterday okay, let’s try today.’ We chuckle about this now, thinking we are glad we never said it on the same day.
With all we have learned and been exposed to – both happy and sad – I realize there are several things we didn’t know about children in the foster care system. Not all children have a mother and father, a warm home, clean clothes, prepared meals, or even food for that matter. One of our children would ruffle through the trash, which I thought was odd, but now I understand. One of our children could not figure out stairs; he lived in a ground level apartment with a solid door and was never allowed to venture outside. One of our children kept running into the French glass doors because she had never been exposed to clear entrances. Another had never touched grass. Examples like these were hard to wrap my head around because what was/is ‘normal’ in my life is/was abnormal in theirs. Again, it is day by day and we still reach out to others for questions and concerns. We’ve based our mission on ‘Every Child Deserves A Chance.’
Just with everything else, foster care is not for everyone – but helping a child grow and learn should be!
Being a foster parent takes time, commitment, sacrifice, energy, and a solid base of mentors and friends in your life. It takes a village to raise children! For those looking at the possibility of fostering, please reach out to our family and others with your questions and/or concerns.
We, the Hakman’s, are committed to continuing our mission in the foster care system as long as we are able. It has taken just one child being successful (and finding out how to love and be loved) to make this journey work.
Addendum: Chris and I have each worked full-time, myself as a nurse and nurse manager working days, holidays, nights and weekends, while my husband is self-employed. Do not let time be your deciding factor in whether you choose to foster children – let your Heart be.“
The Hakman Family