Completing that which is missing


“The world was my oyster
But where was the pearl
Who dreamed I would find it
In one little girl?
Yes, something was missing
But dreams do come true
That something is no one…but you.”
“Something was Missing” - Annie the musical, as performed by the character of Oliver Warbucks

A few weeks ago, I took in a performance of “Annie” in Miller done by the community theater in the area. With a daughter cuddled into each arm, this song struck a different chord than it had when I rehearsed it over and over (and over again) when performing the role of Oliver Warbucks once upon a time.

My wife and I began our journey to becoming parents five years ago as foster parents. We were certified in June of that year after taking classes in the spring. Our first home placement came in July and was with us until the following February, but all along, we know that child would be returning home, so there was not a felt loss when that did happen.

November is a fairly “big” month for us in our journey as it was the month that we were made aware of a trio of siblings in town that were going to be available for adoption through foster care. We had our first visits in December with them and just after the first of the year, they moved into our home.

The adventure was not linear by any means, as nothing with the Department of Social Services really ever is, but we adopted those three siblings two years and two months later.

November is also when our fourth child moved into our home. She came into the house after the three siblings had been in the home for 11 months, and she fit in age-wise perfectly with them. The process of adoption for her was quicker, and she actually was our first adoptee a year later on her birthday.

This month is National Adoption Month, with today, Nov. 20, recognized as National Adoption Day.
In the fiscal year 2019 that ended Sept. 30, 2019, the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) collected information from state agencies on children in foster care. At that time, nearly 425,000 children were in foster care.

The primary goal of foster care is reunification with the parent or primary caretaker. If the parent or primary caretaker is unable to provide for the child, the first attempts are to provide a permanent home with a relative home. The 2019 AFCARS report indicated that children whose case plans involved reunification or placement with a family member comprised 74% of all foster cases, or roughly 315,000 cases.

That still leaves 110,000 foster children who need a forever home.

Becoming and being a foster parent is not an easy road, nor is it something that is for everyone.

That said, there are absolutely children who need a loving, caring home. There are foster children who were in our home who were reunified with parents that we keep in touch with years later.

There are parents who we also still keep in touch with as the goal is really to see long-term health of the family dynamic for both parent and child.

When I worked in youth ministry in the Twin Cities area, I sat down with my supervising pastor one day and discussed mission trips for the middle school and high school youth.

“Where do you see the most need?” I asked him, knowing the church had traveled to Haiti and inner Jamaica in recent years and expecting a similar area would be the response.

“St. Paul,” he flatly responded. “We look so hard for a reason to go elsewhere that we miss the need right here at home.”

So often the idea of adoption is exactly the same. Many cite tremendous expenses of using agencies and traveling abroad to unpredictable orphanages that end up being fronts for other nefarious activities.

It makes adoption seem and/or feel like an expensive, scary, and potentially even wrong thing to do in order to grow a family.

As an adoptive father, I will tell you that we never spent money on an agency. We never traveled to an orphanage overseas. We never once had to think twice about whether what we were doing was right or ethical, and it gave four children from South Dakota a forever home.

Going through foster care to adopt was a route that allowed for children that truly needed a home to be put into our care and find a home. It’s meant that we have different challenges than other parents, and we embrace those as our children lived different lives before they were in our homes than most children in their early years.

Five years after holding that first foster child, I have four amazing children that call me “daddy,” and I wouldn’t change it for the world, no matter what challenges there may be.

If you have an interest in learning more about the idea of fostering to adopt in South Dakota, go to dss.sd.gov/childprotection/fostercare/adopt.aspx.

You can also feel free to email me with any questions about the process at [email protected]

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