Thanks, Facebook.

So, Friday morning, I opened Facebook to find this little gem.


Nine years! I’ve known my husband for approximately nine years! Of course, he hasn’t been my husband all of those nine years…

We met, officially, in the fall of 2006, and while I’ll share our whole story another day, I was reminded this morning of lots of memories between then and now.

Let’s recap what’s in the screenshot up there:
* Our foster parenting announcement – last year. Early in our marriage, we decided to become foster parents, and last summer, we got our license and have been fostering ever since.
* Buying our first car together – this happened shortly after we got married.
* Our wedding – May 2009. Such a great day.
* Cody’s master’s graduation – this past summer! So proud of him!
* Snow  – two winters ago…we love snow!

But let’s talk about all the things Facebook can’t remind us of.

Let’s talk about how awkward I was on the first date when I thought he’d never ask me out again. Let’s talk about the evenings watching movies and doing homework. How about the every-other-weekend 6-hour trips to come visit me when I was still in college? What about that tiny first apartment that we loved (and still remember fondly) where we bumped into each other around every corner because it had approximately 72 square feet?

Oh, I know. We can talk about the afternoons spent grocery shopping together and the nights staying up together when one (or both!) was sick, and the hours spent watching TV and talking and laughing until our sides hurt, and all the “conversations” we’ve had to help us love each other better. All the stretching and twisting and learning and the giving up of each of us, so that there can be an “us?” Let’s talk about the times after we said “I do” when maybe we really didn’t want to, and yet we’re so glad we have.

Let’s talk about the every morning we wake up next to the morning breath and messy hair and smile because we have another day together.

Y’all, it takes so much more than love to have a really great, fun marriage. It takes like. I like my husband so much, and he likes me.

The children, the pets, the houses, the meals, the friends, the life. So much has happened in 9 years of friendship and 6.5 years of marriage that social media can’t even touch.

So thanks, Facebook, but the memories you offer me are only the beginning.

Post-#write31days Blues


Do any of my bloggy friends have the blues after writing every day for a month and then not having anything write about? I mean, I have plenty to write about, but it seems sudden and abrasive to just jump into something else right away…

This was my third year of #write31days, so it’s not necessarily new to me. However, something was different this time around. Something about my writing changed during this series. Not necessarily from a reading perspective, but from a creating perspective. Maybe I should say something changed in ME during this series. For the first time in my LIFE, I enjoy writing. Just ask my college professors. I was the worst, most stubborn writer. I would write a paper, but only the night before, and only if I were kicking and screaming. And complaining. Always complaining. I’ve always hated it. Truthfully, I never felt like I was good at it. It was painful and uncomfortable. I never felt connected to any of that writing. It was never serious.

Even after writing this blog for however many years, I have tried to stay away from actual “writing” and stick with recipes or tutorials or whatever, because I *knew* I didn’t like to write. Writing’s not my thing. That’s not me.

Until, one day, it was. It is.

I went to Allume again this year. (And I promise, as long as my wallet will allow, I’ll keep going.) I went last year to check it out because I knew famous people would be there (and they totally were, and they were totally awesome) but I really wasn’t sure what else to expect from it.

Y’all, life change. That’s what I should have expected from it. So I went again this year, somewhat expectantly, because I knew that Allume people were my people. I knew that there would be a hotel full of women like me, women not like me, women who loved to write (I admired those so much!), and women who were just figuring out if writing fit into their lives. I knew, on some zoomed-out, large-scale level, that these women would be kindred spirits. What I didn’t expect as much, was to put real-life names and faces to those women. I made connections this year at Allume that I hope to carry with me for a long time.

Consider going to Allume next year? It really is that awesome.

My heart is full. My hands are writing. Friends, I hope you’ll stay with me on this journey. I hope that there are some words here that resonate with you.

Much love, Kindel.

#write31days: Day 31


I’m hesitant to even write this post today because I’ve enjoyed this series so much. I’ve always said tha I’m not a writer, but throughout this series, I have found a writing stride. I’ve learned a lot about myself as a writer and as a foster parent.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this series as much as I have writing it. You can always go back and read each post in any order you’d like.

I also hope that I’ve helped shed some light on what real-life foster care looks like. It’s just identifying a need in our community and meeting that need to the best of our ability. It’s that simple.

If being a foster parent isn’t something you’d think you’d like to do, there are other ways to be involved in these kids’ lives. At Christmas, foster children need a sponsor that will take a wish list and buy gifts for the children. I can personally say that this is a big help to foster parents, as well as kids who are in group homes.

I’m so thankful that foster care has been a part of our family’s journey. It just wouldn’t seem normal otherwise. As hard as it is on the hardest days, it is absolutely worth it. It has changed me in ways that I never expected, and it has changed the whole world of one very special Little Man that I know. :)

So thanks, friends, for following along this month. And if you’re interested more in what this crazy life is like, let’s grab coffee, real or digital, and chat.


#write31days: Day 30


Additional Q&A

Throughout this series, I have received other questions in addition to the ones that I’ve posted here this month.

(If you’d like to go back and read the other questions, click here and check out the list. You can click on each question and it will take you to the corresponding post.)

Can my foster child and my biological children share a bedroom?

In our state of South Carolina, mixed gender children can share a room as long as they are under 4  years old. Children 4 and over must share a room with other children of the same gender or be in a room of their own. Children of the same gender can share a room no matter the age.

Can I just do respite care?

Absolutely! Providing respite care or emergency placements is a great way to get started in foster care. It especially allows children who are already in the home to get used to the idea of welcoming in other kids!

I’m single. Can I still be a foster parent?

Yes, yes, yes! Single people and married people alike have so much to offer kids in need of a foster home. Being single does not disqualify anyone from being a foster parent.

Can I be a foster parent and work full time or do I have to be a stay-at-home-parent?

My husband and I both work full time. Many foster families are fortunate to have one parent stay at home, but it is not a requirement.

Do I get to choose the age/gender of my foster children?

Yes. You can set the parameters for the kinds of kids who will come in to your home. When we started, we asked for either gender, ages 0-2. Now that we have our son who will soon be 4, we will only accept boys younger than 4, because they will have to share a room. Also, we have two cribs that convert to toddler beds, so taking a child older than 4 would mean moving a big bed into the room and right now, there’s just not enough space! Our home is two-bedroom, so until we move into a house with more bedrooms, we will be living with this arrangement.

What’s the one trick to making a child feel welcome in your home in the first few minutes?

FOOD! Haha! We try to feed the kids when they first come into our home. It doesn’t matter what time of day or if they just “ate” or not. Some kids have a really hard time eating on the road with a caseworker after they’ve been removed from their homes. Once they get to a house and are trying to get settled, feeding them a yummy meal will usually make them feel very secure.



#write31days: Day 29


I’ve decided foster care is something I want to do. Moving forward, what are three of the first things that should be on my list?

It’s a really exciting time in life when a family starts having children, whether they foster first or have biological children first. There are some important things to remember when you’re ready to take the leap into foster care.

*Share the news with your family and friends. We told our family years ago that we were going to foster. Once we were in the licensing process, we took a picture out in front of our house, and when we were finally licensed, we shared the picture!

Big Announcement

It was a fun way to announce our family growth on social media!

*Have coffee with someone who has been a foster parent. When we decided to be foster parents, it was so important for me to ask real, specific, and some hard questions for those who had walked the road before me. I remember grabbing lunch with a friend. We had already decided to be foster parents long before this lunch, so I intended to just ask those practical questions about how to get licenses, etc. but we wound up talking about that and so much more! She shared with me her journey and she shared so much insight about aspects of foster care that I did not even anticipate! It was so encouraging and I’m so glad we were able to share that time together.

*Research and choose your licensing agency. Here’s a place to ask a lot more questions of someone who has done this. There are lots of agencies (many are state- or region-specific) and Child Protective Services or the Department of Social Services, depending on what it’s called in your state.

I’m sure other foster parents may advise differently about the first three steps to take after making the final decision, but this is what makes sense most to us in our experience.


#write31days: Day 28


How can you share your love and conviction about foster care and adoption without being “preachy?”

While I love to talk about foster care and what that looks like for our family, I certainly hope I never sound “preachy!” (I’m sure I do at times…)

I went to a conference a couple of weeks ago and there were about 400 women there, so you can imagine all the first-meeting conversations that happened. At each meal, I would find myself sitting at a table with six other women I didn’t know, sharing elevator pitches about our lives and blogs. We all share that we’re married (or not), have kids (or not), where we’re from, and what we blog about.

“I’m Kindel. Married to Cody. We have one son and we are hoping to finalize his adoption soon. We have a dog and a cat…blah blah blah.”

This always opens the door for more questions about Little Man. Are you foster parents? How old is he? How long have you had him? And on and on.

Here’s a secret: I LOVE these questions. It gives me a chance to talk about my kid because HELLO! He’s adorable! But is also gives me the chance to normalize being a foster parent. I’m not some super hero out to save all the children. I’m not some weirdo who takes in kids like stray cats. I’m just a normal person who has lots of love in her heart and room in her home.

That weekend at the conference, I met so many other people who either are foster parents or who are interested in foster care. I sat with a new sweet friend and answered questions about foster care (many like the ones in this series!) for the entire meal. It was so wonderful! If I hadn’t opened the door for the conversation, we may never have mentioned it at all and I would have missed out on such sweet community and kindred spirit-ness.

I hope that by making myself available to talk about foster care and being honest about the structure of our family, I am making a way for others to see that normal people are foster parents. Normal people with normal kids that are in such need of love and attention. Doesn’t that sound like a normal kid to you?

Here’s the thing: foster parenting is hard because parenting is hard, not because fostering is hard. Yes, there are difficult aspects, but they are so far outweighed by the good!

So how do I not sound “preachy” when sharing about foster care? It’s all about sharing honestly, without putting any expectation on anyone else, and living openly. It’s a beautiful way that God has chosen to grow our family. Currently, we have 9 kids in our family. We get to welcome one (so far) forever, and eight have moved on to other chapters of their stories. I hope that it’s inspiring without being preachy, normal without sounding strange, and loving freely without obligation.


#write31days: Day 27


What is your favorite part about being a foster parent?

There are a lot of things to not like about the foster system. It’s filled with over-worked case workers, slow paperwork, and lots of waiting. However, it is also filled with children who need loving homes, if even for a short time.

Those kids come to stay with us. And that’s my favorite part.

My favorite part is having the kind of home that has room for one more. Having the kind of hearts that have room for one more.

When a child is brought into our home, something changes. Our house becomes a reprieve for a child. Two days of what we consider to be normal meals, normal bath times, normal sleep habits, normal play time. Some kids need normal for just a few days. And if I can be that normal for them, I welcome that. That makes it all worth it.


On Thursday, I’ll be answering a few more questions that I’ve gotten throughout this series. If you have a question you’d like for me to answer, leave it in the comments or send me an email!


#write31days: Day 26


You are working toward adoption with your foster son. How did you know he was yours?

At the risk of sounding un-romantic, this answer will probably disappoint you. If you’re picturing an open meadow with wildflowers waving gently in the breeze and my husband and I running in slow motion toward our son, with arms flung open and soft smiles across our faces, and dreamy looks in our eyes, then you’re picturing a scene from a movie, not real life.

When we began this process of fostering and maybe adopting, we trusted God (and ARE trusting God) to bring us children who needed homes both temporarily and permanently. We knew from the start that we would have children come and go, and that we would have children who would be able to call our home their forever home. So how do we know the difference?

Some of it comes down to practicality. That sounds harsh, but let me explain. One long weekend, we kept a newborn baby for five days. Fresh from the hospital! He was precious and perfect and we had so much fun caring for a newborn for the first time! Hashtag no sleep. But it was so worth it. He was sweet and wonderful and we knew that he would fit well within our family. He fit perfectly for five days. However, he would not have been able to go to daycare for five more weeks! There was no way I could have taken off work for five weeks! And we don’t have anyone close to us that could have babysat him for that long. We knew that the timing was wrong and he would have to move on to a family that could accommodate his needs better than we could. Had he been six weeks old and there had been space at our daycare? We would have kept him in a heartbeat!

But sometimes we jut know when a child is not meant to stay with us. So how do we know when one IS meant to stay? And even stay forever?

Really, I equate this with falling in love with my husband. When he first asked me out on a date, we were just friends and neither of us expected to get married. (Does anyone go on a first date and expect it to be their last first date?) During that first date, I was sure he’d never call again! Ha! But he asked me out for a second date before the first was even over! And I couldn’t wait to see him again! We spent more and more time together, we had the conversation (you know the one) where we decided that seeing other people was not something we were interested in, and, over time, we fell in love. It’s not something that happens all at once. It’s a mutual growing together and realizing that God uses that other person to make me a better person. It’s realizing that we fit so well together. It’s feeling that I’ve bonded to this person and I don’t want to be away from him. It’s knowing that if he weren’t a part of my life, I would have a huge void that could not be easily filled.

Y’all, I’m teary just thinking about that.

By the time Cody asked me to marry him, I had known for a long time what the answer would be. When you know, you just know.

So when a child comes in to our home and we form a bond with him or her, over time, we fall in love and there’s a deep connection. I didn’t make a place in my womb for that child but we made a place in our house and in our hearts. And when that child becomes available for adoption, we are the first ones in line saying, “We have loved this child. We WILL love this child.” Sometimes the Lord shows favor and we are chosen by the courts to adopt. We are so thankful to be where we are on this adventure.

In all honesty, there are children who come in to the home with whom we have little connection. There are some kids that we just don’t bond with. Don’t get me wrong. We love them and care for them, but for whatever reason (likely because they don’t spend months and months with us) we just don’t connect on the same level.

You know that guy that you went on a date with in college but you just didn’t feel the connection? You had fun and you enjoyed the conversation, but when you went back to your dorm room and he went back to his dorm room, there was nothing stirring in your heart? Maybe he didn’t ask you out on a second date?

Truthfully, that happens with kids sometimes, too. And that’s okay.

When you know, you just know.




#write31days: Day 25


What is foster-to-adopt? What does that involve?

When children come into the foster system and it is determined that their biological family can no longer care for them, there is a court hearing to finalize that decision. It is called a TPR Hearing. TPR stands for Termination of Parental Rights. It is a legal and permanent separation between children and biological parents.

Once a family has been “TPR’d” the children become available for adoption. Adoption case workers prepare all the correct paperwork and “present” the children to potential adoptive families. Once a family expresses their intentions to adopt, there is a period of time where the kids and families get to know each other and spend some time together, and an adoption hearing is scheduled. This is another court hearing to finalize and legalize the adoption.

When a foster family that the child has been living with is chosen to be the ones to adopt the child (and this happens often because  the child has already bonded to the family), then they become the adoptive family.

Remember way back on Day 3 when I talked about the steps to becoming a foster parent? Well, to become an adoptive family, a foster family will fill out some additional paperwork and have another home study completed (which is an in-depth interview and observation of the family), and then they will be able to adopt!

Many people ask about the fees that go along with adoption. In a foster-to-adopt situation, there are minimal fees incurred, and often these are covered by DSS through a stipend. This makes adoption through foster care available to most anyone!


#write31days: Day 24


Can I stop being a foster parent at any time?

One of the positive aspects of the logistics of foster care is that, as the foster parents, we set the parameters of our duties. We are able to choose the age and gender of our foster placements, as well as the level of their special needs. Along with that is the freedom to stop being a foster parent at any time.

Any of these parameters can obviously be abused and taken to the extreme. However, when used properly, they allow foster care to continue and be open to many different types of people.

I’ve mentioned before that we took a break from fostering for about a month. We didn’t let our license lapse or expire, but we said no to any potential placements. We have friends who had aging parents and other family things happening, so they chose to let their license expire. These are valid reasons fro discontinuing foster parenting. Truthfully, I don’t know how some people continue to do it for decades, especially with all the normal life things that happen.

I do believe that it is something most of us can do, if only for a season.


On day 30, I’ll be answering some additional questions about foster care. If you have a question you’d like answered, please email me or leave a comment!