I’m a first-time foster mom… at 53

Guest post by Sheryl

Hand-holding Zone For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to adopt. I remember discussing adoption with my high school boyfriend, who also thought it would be a good idea when we got married or joined a commune. Well, we didn’t work out, and the idea was put on the shelf for a time. I moved on with my life by going to college, joining the Navy, and getting married. I ended up having a baby of my own — a boy. Don’t get me wrong, I adored and worshipped my son and wouldn’t have traded him for anything, but I couldn’t help but wonder… would I ever know what it was like to have a daughter?

I met my current partner at the age of 43, after being divorced for many years. We’ve been together for 10 years this May. We discussed having children back then, but it didn’t work out. The local Department of Social Services (DSS) were really beefing up their campaign to find more families to recruit to foster, and every time I saw one of their commercials or saw an ad in the paper for an upcoming event, I knew I had to convince my partner in crime that this was the way to go.

There was fear — fear that we would fall in love with our child and have to give him or her back. Fear that we were “too old” to handle this — I was already 50 years old and some days felt like 70… could I do this? I’m one of those people that when I put my mind to something, I will figure out how to do it.

After taking the mandatory eight weeks of foster parenting classes, filling out numerous forms, undergoing background checks, and getting certified (this included well water testing, safety inspection by the fire department, and a health exam), we had our foster parent license. We were able to let them know ahead of time the type of child we wanted to foster with the intent of adopting if it all worked out.

One month later, we got the call — a two month old baby girl getting ready to leave the NICU. She was born at 26 weeks at a little over a pound with cocaine in her system. She had some tubage and was extremely fragile. We had to let them know in one hour if we would be her foster parents, as DSS was going into a meeting to discuss her situation and needed to know who was going to step up.

I called my partner who immediately said yes, but we still had to check with our neighbor (also close friend) who we asked months ago to be our nanny if we were to get a child. She lived next door and would come to our house. She agreed. We called our social worker back and with much trepidation said we would do it. We heard back in a couple of hours that they chose us…. and the rest is history.

RJ has thrived and is one of the smartest and funniest little ones I’ve ever known. She is very social and will say hi to everyone and tells them she likes their shoes. She is the first one to go over to a crying baby and tell that child, “It’s OK” while stroking his or her head. She is a miracle, a blessing, and my heart’s own. It looks like we will be adopting her before she turns three in September — we are going to have one heck of a kick-ass party!

Comments on I’m a first-time foster mom… at 53

  1. I love this article. I swear before I started reading it I was just having a discussion with my husband about getting our foster license. We have a 1.5 year old baby girl and my husband really really wants to get pregnant again ASAP but I really really want to adopt. So we are trying to find a compromise.

    Thank you so much for your story and it is very inspiring to me.

    • We have a 19 month old, and I want to foster parent too 🙂 We’ve signed up for our first classes, and are painting the extra room a gender neutral color. 6 months from now we might be foster parents.

  2. Funny how the second I started reading this I knew it was you guys! The name at the end confirmed it. 🙂 You two are amazing parents and 2 of the best friends we have. Your doing an awesome job with RJ. We talk all the time about all the complications that by all rights she SHOULD have with her health history and how you guys have done such a wonderful job beating those odds with the care, love and dedication that you give to her. She has a fantastic future ahead of her and she has you two to thank for that. We love you ladies!

  3. My husband and I are contemplating fostering, but at the moment we are quite young with no children. We live in Australia, and currently there is a shortage for homes for boys aged 5-13. My worry is that a boy of 13+ is not going to respect a 22 year old female as a parenting figure. Has anyone had experience with this?

    • Not exactly, but I have been helping to take care of a friend’s kids and the oldest is a 13 year old girl. (I’m 22) At this point I think I’m more of a friend and an older trustworthy person to talk to.

    • Skyeanna,

      I have been a foster parent since I was 21 (I am now 27) My husband and I only foster teens (we mostly do boys) and out of all the youth we have had we have never had a problem with my age. I won’t go into all the problems we have had because it would probably turn you off the idea HA-HA.

      If you are worried about respect perhaps fostering teens is not for you, maybe you should foster younger children. I don’t want to paint all the youth in care with the same brush, but “respect” takes time, respect needs to be earned and with some kids it never happens at all.

      Talk to your social worker and ask lots of questions before you accept a placement. You don’t want to have the placement break down because it’s not the right fit. Thats not fair to your family or the child in care.

  4. What a great post! It seems like you “knew” about RJ long before she arrived. How special. I plan to foster and/or adopt in the future, we cannot right now because of our small apartment, but someday! This story is quite an inspiration though:)

  5. As a former foster child I would like to say thank you for what you are doing. There truly are not enough people who are willing to take on the stress and heartache that can come with fostering and adoptions. This really is a great post.

  6. What a wonderful post. My mom started fostering a few years ago. She’s 48 and has always wanted to foster. After raising us (I’m 28, my brother is 26, my sister is 25 and my other brother is 15) it’s so fun to see my mom be a mom to other kids. She’s awesome at it, and it’s so great to hear that there are so many other awesome people out there.

  7. We adopted our daughter through the foster system last year and reading your post made my heart flutter. I’m so happy for you and your family!

  8. Wow, this made me cry. How wonderful! It’s hard to imagine having the energy for a baby in my 30’s (and my oldest is not even two yet) so kudos to you!

  9. You’re truly an awesome woman – it takes a lot to do what you’re doing. 🙂 My mom fostered my two younger brothers, and later adopted them; ours was a family foster situation, but I still know how much of a change it was, and the joy from being able to permanently call them my brothers. 🙂

  10. Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments and support. What was not posted in my story was that we now have a 16 year old girl who we’ve had for 6 weeks and already love. She is a wonderful older sister for RJ. Who knows…we may get to adopt both at the same time.

  11. Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments and support. What was not posted in my story was that we now have a 16 year old girl who we’ve had for 6 weeks and already love. She is a wonderful older sister for RJ. Who knows…we may get to adopt both at the same time.

  12. Thank you for writing a postive article on Foster care. The day you go see the judge to sign the adoption papers is the best day of your life.
    My little bro and sister were adopted from foster care. I couldn’t love them more. For Adoption day my little sister asked for a wedding ring like my mothers so she could belong to my parents forever. (my mom had told her that a wedding ring meant that the husband and wife belong to each other)
    They have inspired my husband and i to take foster children.
    I can’t wait to meet my babies, even if they aren’t babies when we meet them.

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