the beginning | Rachel Vanoven Blog

the beginning

cannot wait to add to this crew <3

A little over 6 weeks ago, Nick and I started our foster parenting classes, not knowing what to expect, as most first time foster parents start out. Our first class was in a little classroom in the unassuming DCS office in a strip mall style office complex in Avon, Indiana. There was a broad range of future foster parents there, from grandparents getting custody of their grandchildren who were currently in the foster system, to “career” foster parents who have no intentions of adopting, but plan on just being a foster family as long as they can, to the couple who moved from Texas and had already adopted two boys from the foster system there and were hoping to do it again here in Indiana. There were two other couples like us, just hoping to start their family or add to their family through the foster system.

The class was pretty much everything I expected it to be, emphasis on the fact that DCS is *not* an adoption service and that reunification is always the first goal. I’m on the same page there. I don’t know if it makes a difference that we already have kids, how we even have our oldest, Brynn who isn’t biologically Nick’s–which I feel somewhat prepares us to respect these children’s needs for that bio-family love. From day one we’ve encouraged Brynn to have relationships with her biological dad and his family, and if our future foster child(ren) have healthy relationships/bonds with family, we hope to continue and respect those relationships after we hopefully adopt.

So where are we right now?

-Physicals are done

-Fingerprints are done

-Classes are done

-First Aid/CPR (pediatric) are scheduled for next week

-Homestudy is set for June 12th!

The past few months we have been looking at taking a boy anywhere from aged 2 to 8, possibly even older. It’s a funny place to be. If we were adding to our family by me actually getting pregnant, there would for sure be a baby in 9 months. Right now, it’s like, how do we plan? Technically we should be certified and ready to go in around a month, maybe two. Since we aren’t waiting for a newborn, or really even a baby, chances are we will get a placement faster than normal (at least that’s what we’ve been told), so it’s hard to imagine what our family will look like this coming fall.

It’s hard knowing that our future son is out there right now. Either in the foster system already, or in a bad home situation.

Any time I travel away from my kids for a few days or more on business, I get to the point where my arms ache to hold my kids, to wrap my arms around them and feel their little bodies against mine, smell their smells and kiss their sweet cheeks and hair. For Josie, our 5 year old, I still hold her sometimes, so I can almost feel the weight of her in my arms, and long for it.

That’s how I feel about my future son.

I know he’s out there. I want him in our home. I want to tuck him in clean sheets and smooth his hair. I want to have a “song” thats just ours. Each of my kids love their nightly routine when I tuck them in and “sing the song you sang to me when I was a baby, mommy!” Brynn’s is “Baby Mine” from Dumbo, Nicholas’ is Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight” and Josie’s is “Go to Sleep You Little Baby” from O Brother Where Art Thou?. 

In class we learn that many kids in the foster system aren’t used to sleeping in beds. We learn that they aren’t used to eating at tables, with silverware. And that isn’t even touching the emotional wringer these kids have been through.

I’ve never for one second believed that I’ve been blessed in my photography career so we could live easier with two incomes, or that I have 50,000 fans so 50,000 people could see cute pictures of babies that I take. I firmly believe that there is a bigger picture, because there are thousands of photographers more talented than I am with less of a reach. God has a purpose, and I believe that this is part of it. I believe that I’ve been given a giant megaphone, and maybe-maybe-through watching this foster journey play out in our family, more waiting children will find their forever homes. Maybe if we show our honest and open foster parenting and ultimate hope for adopting, someone reading this will realize that they can do it too. If anything, hopefully this platform will give us some extra prayers because I don’t have a rosy notion that this is going to be a cakewalk.

Just in the last few days, I have felt my heart changing. Where my mother instincts kept pushing for a baby, a two year old, something is changing. I scroll through the waiting children, the older ones, and want to cry at all of the smiling, hopeful faces. We could change their futures. They could change ours.

  1. abby says:

    You have such a beautiful soul! Thank you SO much for sharing your journey with us. I just love love love how excited you are about saving a child in need. Bless you and your family as you go through this amazing process!

  2. Nichole Johnson says:

    I just read this post today and I am in tears. What your family is doing is amazing. God has that boy in his hands right now just waiting to go to your family. I am sure you will change more lives than you know by giving that boy a second or maybe third…etc..chance at a great life. Have you heard the Matthew west song “do something?” Your family is the shining example of how God calls us all to Do something.

  3. jen says:

    It is amazing that you and Nick are willing to undertake this huge responsibility. My sister is currently fostering 2 kids (has had them for the past 2 years and was just given the approval for permanent placement). It is a journey and it will be hard, best of luck as you enter this new place in your life with your family!

  4. Samantha swope says:

    This is amazing and I’m so beyond excited for you and your sweet family. PLEASE keep sharing!!

  5. Julie hills says:

    A fellow photographer and foster momma myself, I know exactly what you’re going through right now (well, maybe not exactly, but pretty darn close!) Thank you for stepping out and choosing to parent children who need you in the most difficult time of their lives. You will be beyond blessed…it is trying and hard and downright awful sometimes, but it is totally worth it the second you see that beautiful boy make one simple move that shows you he’s making progress and it proves to you that love wins! Good luck!

  6. Jennifer collier says:

    I was adopted as a child and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about how lucky I was that God placed me right where I was meant to be. How amazing that your journey has led you and your family to be right where God want you to be and for your future son to be!!!! I wish you all the best and many prayers will go up for you and your family and for what is to come!!! God bless!

  7. Stephanie says:

    I loved this and I love everything about you/your business….you are an inspiration to me 😉

  8. Jill macnab says:

    As a fellow foster-mama, know that the changes you see in those little souls over the months will give you the warmest glow in your heart! Regardless of where their life-path leads them, the impact you make WILL make a difference. <3

  9. shannon aikin says:

    Oh Rachel! My heart longs for the same thing but it is our adopted daughter’s brother. He has a name, I know his face and I too long to hold him and protect him. I will keep you guys in my prayers! What a lucky little boy your future son will be! <3

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