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Fostering a family

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Fostering a family

Flanked by their four foster children, AP Government teacher Kristin Lynch (left) and her wife Rebecca, went from a home without children to one with four younger than six, plus a teenager.

Flanked by their four foster children, AP Government teacher Kristin Lynch (left) and her wife Rebecca, went from a home without children to one with four younger than six, plus a teenager. "This group of kiddos came available and what happened was, our home has square footage that allows for us to take up to six children and so they saw our square footage and said, ‘okay look, we know that you say this, we want kids between four and fourteen," Kristin said. "We know that you say that you want two or three, how about four and they’re five, four, three, and two,’ and we were like, okay so, honestly, we just prayed on it. We’re like okay, is this what we were meant to have, is this who we were meant to be.”

provided by Kristin Lynch

Flanked by their four foster children, AP Government teacher Kristin Lynch (left) and her wife Rebecca, went from a home without children to one with four younger than six, plus a teenager. "This group of kiddos came available and what happened was, our home has square footage that allows for us to take up to six children and so they saw our square footage and said, ‘okay look, we know that you say this, we want kids between four and fourteen," Kristin said. "We know that you say that you want two or three, how about four and they’re five, four, three, and two,’ and we were like, okay so, honestly, we just prayed on it. We’re like okay, is this what we were meant to have, is this who we were meant to be.”

provided by Kristin Lynch

provided by Kristin Lynch

Flanked by their four foster children, AP Government teacher Kristin Lynch (left) and her wife Rebecca, went from a home without children to one with four younger than six, plus a teenager. "This group of kiddos came available and what happened was, our home has square footage that allows for us to take up to six children and so they saw our square footage and said, ‘okay look, we know that you say this, we want kids between four and fourteen," Kristin said. "We know that you say that you want two or three, how about four and they’re five, four, three, and two,’ and we were like, okay so, honestly, we just prayed on it. We’re like okay, is this what we were meant to have, is this who we were meant to be.”

By Aliza Porter, Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas

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For many parents, starting a family involves some planning. If nothing else, it usually takes approximately nine months for a family to have a child.

But for AP Government teacher, and assistant softball coach Kristin Lynch, the start of her family came a bit faster, as she and her wife Rebecca went from zero to four children almost instantly.

provided by Kristin Lynch
“These kids came to us and they had zero idea what love meant and when we said, ‘I love you,’ they had no idea how to respond with even, ‘I love you too,’” Rebecca said. “It was just, ‘oh okay.’ They didn’t know how to give hugs. They just didn’t know affection.”

“I have always wanted to adopt children and she [Rebecca] is adopted, so for us, fostering to adopt was a really good way to give back because we have such a nice life and there’s no reason not to provide that for others so that’s kind of what our goal has been,” Kristin said. “We actually licensed for only three kiddos. Up to three and when we filled out our paperwork, we were like we would prefer two, but we will take a third sibling if need be and our age range was four to, at that time they told us was fourteen. This group of kiddos came available and what happened was, our home has square footage that allows for us to take up to six children and so they saw our square footage and said, ‘okay look, we know that you say this, we want kids between four and fourteen. We know that you say that you want two or three, how about four and we were like, okay so, honestly, we just prayed on it. We’re like okay, is this what we were meant to have, is this who we were meant to be.”

From a couple, to a house of six, the Lynch’s weren’t done as a teenager was recently added to the mix, an age Kristin and Rebecca originally thought they would start with.

“When we first got into fostering, Rebecca and I both agreed that we wanted to take older kids because a lot of the times, people prefer younger children and that breaks my heart to think that there’s thirteen, fourteen, fifteen year old kiddos out there that don’t have a mom and dad and will forever stay in the foster system and just age out and go to college and not have a support system,” Kristin said. “That’s terrifying to me because, as a former college student, had I not had my family, I’m not so sure I would be as successful as I am now. That’s a huge thing to me. . I think what really helped us to make the decision to say yes was that I have two half brothers, a full brother, a step-brother, and three step-sisters and she has two brothers and my brother has four children and her brother has five children so in our families, four, five children, that’s just normal.”

But being a foster parent can present different challenges from being a biological parent. By October of 2016, Collin County CPS has already removed more than 130 abused and neglected children from their homes that year, a determining factor in fostering for the Lynch family.

“One, we knew there were so many children needing homes in the Collin County area that are apart of the foster care system and we both have hearts to help children and obviously become parents so that’s one of our biggest reasons,” Rebecca said. “Also, I’m adopted so being able to give back to the children that come from homes where their birth parents aren’t able to really give them what they need, which is something I’ve always wanted to do is be able to kind of give that back.”

provided by Kristin Lynch
Embracing their roles as foster parents, Kristin and Rebecca Lynch hope to adopt one day.
“When I was six, I told my mom, I think I was five or six, I told my mom literally I was going to adopt all the kids off of Wednesday’s Children,” Lynch said. “I was going to adopt seven of them and name them the days of the week so I feel like this was something that has kind of been in my life plan, my whole life. I just didn’t realize that it could be something that I realized and made true.”

Although the arrival of four children was relatively quick, it took some time for the children to feel at home with the Lynch’s.

“When they first came to us, they were really introverted and really kind of pulled back,” Kristin said. “Then over time, we have seen them become more comfortable and so I think one of the things that I’ve noticed is just like they ask for hugs and they want to say I love you and goodnight and they’ll ask for attention and special affection like a hug or a kiss goodnight. I was just that kid and I think that when they ask for that, it shows that they are trusting us.”

Part of that trust is keeping some things familiar as foster parents are expected to carry on the same traditions that the foster children shared before being removed from their family situations.

“There’s all these questionnaires you fill out to kind of help match you with the right kind of children and the right kind of families because one of the thing’s in the foster system is that they want to make sure that they’re not putting children in homes that would be startling different,” Kristin said. “For instance, like our children came from Hispanic family. They celebrate Hispanic holidays and that was one thing that was asked of us like will we continue to do that and we’re like of course, absolutely. You do a lot of cultural difference training.”

Simply being in a position to be foster parents was a process for the Lynch’s.

In 2017, House Bill 3859, signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott, stipulated that groups can decline to provide social services to a person if that person’s belief conflicts with the group’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

“Certain agencies don’t work with same-sex couples so you have to find gay friendly organizations and also, within those organizations, you still have to make sure that you’re working with a case manager who’s comfortable because, I mean of course being gay is something that can make people uncomfortable,” Kristin said. “I don’t like to make people uncomfortable so if I can ever avoid it, that’s always my goal because I don’t like the idea of forcing who I am on others just like I wouldn’t want them to force who they were on me. So that was kind of our greatest obstacle was making sure that we had an agency and a case manager who were comfortable with our beliefs.”

Only 16 states, plus the District of Columbia, allow gay individuals or couples to petition to adopt, with each state having its own gay adoption laws regarding individual (unmarried) adoption, joint adoption, and second parent adoption.

In Texas, single gay adoption is permitted; however, some agencies in Texas are more acceptable to the idea of same-sex couples adopting than others.

“We were actually placed with an agency who has multiple same-sex couples as foster and adopt parents,” Rebecca said. “We did our research and we knew that we wouldn’t really come across any obstacles being a same sex couple.”

6 in 10 Americans have had personal experience with adoption, which hits close to home for Rebecca.

“There’s definitely a lot of empathy just because I understand, one the emotion of going through knowing that you have a biological parent that’s just not able or equipped to care for you so I’m able to emphasize with our kids with their emotional struggles of not living in their home with their biological parents and living in a home with parents that they didn’t necessarily know or grow up with so there’s a lot of empathy there,” Rebecca said. “I can also, obviously, sympathize with the way that they feel just because I’ve had those feelings before and I had to work through those emotions on my own so I can also pour that into the children as well.”

Although less than 2 percent of Americans adopt, more than 33 percent have considered it. One out of every 25 U.S. families with children have an adopted child, and about half of these have both biological and adopted children.

provided by Kristin Lynch
“One of the thing’s in the foster system is that they want to make sure that they’re not putting children in homes that would be startling different,” Kristin said. “For instance, like our children came from Hispanic family. They celebrate Hispanic holidays and that was one thing that was asked of us like will we continue to do that and we’re like of course, absolutely. You do a lot of cultural difference training.”

“We will be fostering and we will hopefully, one day, foster to adopt,” Kristin said. “Having biologically isn’t in the plan. It’s not what God intended for us so it just isn’t something I’m capable of doing, but fostering and hopefully foster to adopt, absolutely. When I was six, I told my mom, I think I was five or six, I told my mom literally I was going to adopt all the kids off of Wednesday’s Children. I was going to adopt seven of them and name them the days of the week so I feel like this was something that has kind of been in my life plan, my whole life. I just didn’t realize that it could be something that I realized and made true.”

Some kids who experience abuse and, or neglect aren’t comfortable with physical affection, making it tricky as a foster parent.

“One of the most rewarding parts so far, with this being our first placement is, you know these kids came to us and they had zero idea what love meant and when we said, ‘I love you,’ they had no idea how to respond with even, ‘I love you too,’” Rebecca said. “It was just, ‘oh okay.’ They didn’t know how to give hugs. They just didn’t know affection. They didn’t know how to love or what love was and the most rewarding was being able to see over time our five year-old, instead of turning his back to you every time you asked for a hug, him just come running up to you with arms wide open and jumping into your arms when you asked for a hug. Or walking out of the room and your three year-old turning around and saying, ‘Hey mommy, I love you,’ because he knows what it means so I would think that’s the most rewarding is just being able to instill love in them so that they know what love is and what it looks like and how to give love and how to receive love.”

Although having children comes with not only more people to love, but a busier lifestyle, the presence of noise is one to treasure in the Lynch household.

“Our home is louder, our lives are busier, pantry is fuller,” Rebecca said. “We’ve kind of gotten into a routine. We’re able to do a routine so it’s not hectic. It’s just busy, but it’s not a bad busy. It’s just full I would say. I always tell people, our hands, our hearts, and our home is fuller now.”

This story was originally published on Wingspan on February 11, 2019.

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