A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to see the movie Instant Family. Now, despite the name, it is not a movie for younger children. Yet it was funny and heartwarming. The story asks you to consider, how much can I give to children who need a home?
No one will tell you foster care or adoption is easy. And since I’m one of those people who is still not ready, I thought it best to share with you some words from a foster/adoptive parent whose children go to my kids’ school. This woman amazes me, and let me tell you why.
Joyce Estes is an Edmond resident and a retired teacher from Putnam City Schools. But even after raising three kids with her husband, Wade, she now has a household of nine children. Her navy-blue van is unmistakable in the school parking lot, and it is only outsized by the hearts of this woman and her husband.
So, it’s only right that she tells you about this process, as only a foster and adoptive parent can.
How did you get involved in foster care and adoption, and how did it affect your family?
Estes: We started looking into open adoption when our kids were older. We felt we had the resources and experience to give back. Of course, whether you have your own children or not, there are challenges. If you are new to parenting and you foster, that comes with its own learning curve. If you have experience with your own children, you learn foster parenting is different. These children have faced some type of trauma, even if that’s simply being removed from their parents or guardians. Discipline will be different; you have to think outside the box!
What have been the rewards for your family?
Estes: Because we are a family of faith, we feel we have an “at-home mission field.” We are serving both the kids and the birth parents, reaching out and building a bridge with that biological family when we can. Some cases are obviously easier than others, but you grow because of it. We get to see God working right now. Sometimes you can look back at your life and see his hand in things, but in this situation, you get to see God working every day.
How does living in Edmond contribute to making fostering easier?
Estes: Edmond is an area where people are aware of foster care, and there are so many resources through churches, which offer foster support groups. Edmond businesses also reach out and do things for foster parents, and it’s amazing to see that kind of support. The idea of helping these children is growing in people’s minds, and even if they can’t foster, they may participate in things like getting qualified to babysit foster kids. When people want to help, I’m happy for it!
If you are interested in foster care or adoption, Estes recommends checking out Lilyfield Foster Care Services or Angels Foster Family Network. Also, many churches will have information to get you started.