Peter and his son Anthony had moved to Charlotte North Carolina a year earlier. Peter had been a foster parent for a few years before he adopted Anthony. When they made the move, they knew that they wanted to be a foster family for other kids, but moving to a new state meant going through the long approval process.
It took almost a year of waiting, and the approval came at the start of stay at home orders in many states, including North Carolina.
“I knew the chances of placement or respite were close to none. All offices were closed and every family had been in lockdown for almost two weeks,” Peter remembers thinking.
Despite the odds of receiving a placement or a request to be the backup for another foster family, that’s exactly when the call came in.
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This is what I call The Fostercare Manual (MAPP + TBR). After my second class I thought to myself, how do I back out of this whole foster thing? I felt unequipped in every way. That maybe with a military background or therapist degree (or may be if I have 20 of my extended family members living with me under the same roof) I would be a qualified foster dad. Luckily, I did stick in the training (even though I hoped I would fail at the requirements). Of course that didn’t happen and I was finally licensed. At last, my first placement arrived, then a 2rd placement, then a 3rd, 4th, 5th. By then I had been called all sorts of names, yelled at, peed on, and the list goes on. A few of my home flips have even been trashed but I still have not quit fostering. Even through all this, I would say dealing with construction contractors and buyers have been the most difficult. Their demands and lack of commitment has given me all the grey hairs (surprisingly 😋). Every time l I will choose the fostercare training manual to guide me because at least my kids eat my poorly cooked meals without cursing 🤬. Edit by @ruraldad #fostercare #fosterparents #fostercareawareness #fostercareadoption #fostertoadopt #fostercareawarenessmonth #fosterthepeople #fosterneeded #fosteringsaveslives #fostermoms #encouragement #handsandfeet #waitingforyou #waitingkids #dadsofinstagram #singledads #solodad #singledadlife #singledad #blackdads #teendad #lookingtoadopt #diversity #fatherhood
“Would you be willing to take in a 7-year-old boy during quarantine?”
He was given some background about the 7-year old boy his new social workers were proposing for him to foster. “I was a little shocked, but listened to why they needed me to take him in during this lockdown.”
Everyone involved recognized the size of the ask given the current circumstances. “We had already been in quarantine for more than 2 weeks and I could not imagine taking someone in. We had no clue where he had been or who he had been in contact with.”
Peter had taken all the precautions necessary to protect himself and his son and struggled with whether or not taking in a child was the right thing to do for his family.
He had so many questions. Why did this little boy need a home now? What happened to his family? What would happen if they couldn’t find a place for him to be? “All I could think about were the what-ifs. So much was going through my mind. I was taken aback.”
Even with the questions he had, after listening to why this little boy needed a home, Peter knew what his next step was; to have a family meeting with his son.
Families Figure Things Out Together
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The dishwasher is definitely the ‘water-cooler’ of the new age…at least it is in my family. Who can relate? 🙌🏾 Maybe it’s because of my bottomless-pit of a teenager 🕳? This boy eats snacks every 30-minutes and before and after every meal! I’m convinced when he’s not eating, he's thinking about it 🤪 Cleaning and dishwashing has become a round-the-clock job! 🕐🕒🕕🕘 He better be cleaning his own bathroom and toilet often…I’m not even going to try to go in there 😝 While the endless clean-up is not my idea of fun, the opportunity for family time, conversation, laughs, and lessons around the dishwasher are welcome! Is it just me? Or has the dishwasher become a key member of your household also?👇🏾 #dadgoals #singledad #singlemomlife
When Peter approached Anthony to explain the call he received and the request to foster, as any parent of a typical 13-year old might expect, he was playing video games. Still, he listened to what his father shared.
“Hold old is he?,” asked Anthony.
“Seven,” replied Peter.
Anthony continued, “well, he’s probably going to be annoying and nagging, but he can play games with me.”
Peter felt a mini sigh of relief and was thinking, “Okay, well that wasn’t too bad…” and then he heard his son say, “can he go biking with me when he comes?”
At that moment, he knew that their only choice was to take in the little boy. “It was heartwarming to know he was thrilled to share all he had with him. I knew we had to risk it all so we could provide a safe and loving home for this little one.”
Between saying yes and their new family member arriving, Peter remembers wondering about not knowing what tomorrow would bring during the pandemic for himself alone, let alone his son and a foster child. He had no doubt, however, that he and Anthony would do their very best to make sure this little boy was safe and loved.
Where There Is Love, There Is Family
“A few hours later he arrived at our home. I didn’t realize how tiny and unsure he would look. I’m not sure he had ever stayed at a black man’s home before,” remembers Peter.
And then, something unexpected and beautiful happened. The moment the little boy saw Anthony, his smile grew from ear to ear; it lit up the entire room, and the two boys introduced themselves to one another.
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I had no idea that there were so many levels in video games. I’m still on Level 1 after playing the same game for 4 solid weeks! To say my son is slightly frustrated at my lack of video game knowledge, would be an understatement. The controller itself has too many buttons and functions for my brain to handle and every time I make the slightest of moves….BOOM💥I’m terminated! 🎮 . . Picture by @stephandstef Edited by @Michelle
Within minutes, they were in the garage digging through thousands of pieces of Lego making unique creations.
That was truly the moment Peter knew he had made the right decision.
Family Takes Risks
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We might look different or sometimes treated differently but a perfect fit. Truly blessed to call you my son! 🙍🏾♂️🙎♂️ @eadeckerphotography #fosterdad #fostermom #fostercare #fosterparents #fostertoadopt #fostercareadoption #fosterthepeople #fosterfamily #foreverfamily #blackdads #dadsofinstagram #adoption #singledad #solodad #dadtribe #singledadlife #blackandwhite #waitingkids #fathersongoals #teendad #lookingtoadopt #fostermomlife
The foster care system has been hit hard by the pandemic. From fears of spreading the virus between homes, to family courts being shut-down, and in-person and family visits suspended. Historically, domestic and child abuse get worse in times of disaster and so there is a fear of increased abuse for so many foster children who may have nowhere else to go.
Peter knew in his heart that despite the timing, he couldn’t forget the needs of others, especially kids who are vulnerable and need safety.
“A house is not a blessing unless it can be shared, even in the toughest times.”
May is National Foster Care Month. Even if you’re not in the position to take in a foster child, now is a great time to extend some kindness for other families and kids.
Here are some ways you and your family can help:
- deliver a gift card or a care package
- order a meal for a family
- offer to do a grocery or supplies run
- contact a family or your local foster care agency and ask what they need most right now.
What matters most is coming together as a family and sharing what you have with others who are waiting for you right now.
As for Peter, Anthony, and their new family member, they are all doing well, enjoying each other’s company, and at the writing of this article are about to grow their family again with the addition of a new puppy.