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12: Opening Your Heart and Home To Foster Care with Emily Recker

Whimsy + Wellness episode 12 opening your home and heart to fostering
12: Opening Your Heart and Home To Foster Care with Emily Recker
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It takes a firm yes, the ability to love without abandon, and the strength to persevere during the hard times to be a good foster parent for children who need a loving home. It’s also an incredibly powerful way to make a positive and impactful difference in their lives. Today’s guest is giving us an inside look at foster parenting and how impactful she’s found it for herself, her family, and the kids who enter her home.

In this episode, I am talking to Emily Recker, an advocate for helping children and teens in the foster care system find the love and support they need and deserve. Emily is sharing her journey as a foster parent and how she has navigated the highs and lows of giving children and teens in need a safe home filled with love, guidance, and support.

 

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Music by Taylor Ryan


Having the opportunity to provide a safe and nurturing home for children and teens who need love and guidance during challenging times can be incredibly rewarding –and today’s guest is sharing her own journey as a foster parent. She’s giving us an inside look at how fostering has changed her life and why she encourages anyone with room in their heart and in their homes to consider fostering, too.

Meg: All right. Emily Recker is here with us. Thank you so much, Emily, for joining us today.

Emily: Absolutely. I’m excited to be here.

 

The Real Life Story of Fostering

Meg: I am so excited to chat with you. So foster care has been something that has interested me since I was a little girl two houses down from me growing up, there was a group home for specifically teenage boys in foster care. And so it was always common knowledge when I was little. I was like, What is this, you know? And then growing up, I babysat for a foster family. And so personally, it’s been an interest of mine. In the essential oil community, it’s a pretty well talked about topic, if you will. And so I’m just really excited for people to hear your story and for you to answer questions that I feel like so many people probably have.

Emily: Absolutely, yeah, I think it is something that a lot of people are curious about. And it just helps to hear stories. I know when I first started getting interested in it, I found a podcast that a foster mom had done where she just interviewed a bunch of foster moms and I just binge listen to that. Because just hearing other people who had actually made it happen, I found so encouraging and motivating. So that’s why I say yes, whenever anyone asks to hear the story, because I know when people hear it, it makes them more likely to want to actually go and do it. And it makes it feel feasible. So yeah, for sure. I like real life stories.

Meg: I feel like at least myself, I learned so much better from real life stories than like a government web page where I’m like trying to find an answer to something. So can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family and your journey as a foster parent?

Emily: Yes. So my husband and I yeah, we got married. And we live in a small little seaside town, in North Carolina, in the southern Outer Banks. It is picture perfect. Actually, there’s Nicholas Sparks books based on my town. That’s how it is. It’s really pretty, there’s wild horses and on the islands, and it’s just historic and beautiful and quaint. And so it was beautiful. But  as beautiful as the area is, there’s also a lot of brokenness. And so when we first got married, fostering is something that we had kind of thrown around the idea of is something that we would do one day down the road. And I think that’s a lot of people’s conversations like, Oh, yeah, one day, we’ll do that. 

So I was working at my church, when my husband was stationed here in this area, which is why we live here. And I was doing communications and some different things, graphic design and things like that at the church. And so I was in charge of announcements and getting everything set up for that. And this one social worker kept coming in and asking like, Hey, we need more foster parents, we need more foster parents and like, oh, cool, cool. I’ll get the word out. I’ll get the word out. And so she would come in, like every three months with this announcement that needed to be made. And I kept being like, Man, I’m gonna share this. And nobody was taking her up on it. And she came in one day, and she was just like, I’m back again. No one said, Yes, yeah. And I remember just feeling this like, pull in my heart like, man, why aren’t we stepping up? Why is no one in this community wanting to say yes to these kids who so desperately need to be loved and need a safe place to land? 

Whimsy + Wellness episode 12 opening your home and heart to fostering

Stepping Up Into Foster Care

So I came home at night and told my husband, I’m feeling this knowledge. We didn’t have any children. At the time. It was just the two of us. We’ve been married for probably three or four years. And he said, Well, he started asking me all these questions. He’s an enneagram, five, seven, I say yes. And then I figured things out. He does all the research. So he started asking me all these questions that I didn’t have the answers to. And I was like, You know what, I’m just gonna get coffee with that social worker who kept coming in, we’re gonna become besties. And I’m gonna learn all the things. And so I took her to coffee. And I just asked her every question, I got everything done. And she was so helpful in giving me answers and letting me just be honest, and letting me be naive and not making me feel judged about all the questions I had. And it was so helpful. 

So yeah, we started the process. And we ended up getting a 14 year old girl as our first placement. And we kind of went into it saying it would make more sense for us to have kids six and under because of our ages that we were at the time. I was 27 at the time, maybe 28. And I remember thinking like that would be a good age, because that’s about how old I could have a child that would be that age. And we ended up never having kids under six. We’ve only ever had kids six and older. Which is really interesting. I don’t really know how that happened. We just kept saying yes, and they just kept asking. We just kept saying yes. 

But the really cool story was that 14 year old girl that we said yes to the day before she came to stay with us, which was actually Mother’s Day, which was really beautiful. And we found out we were pregnant with our six year old son. And so it was just a really powerful Mother’s Day because we went from having zero kids to finding out that there was a baby growing inside of me. And we had this amazing 14 year old daughter to love. 

And so it was a really emotional and powerful time. And it just felt like we were doing the right thing. It didn’t make me think maybe we shouldn’t be doing this, it made me just think we’ve got to keep going. And also, what a cool blessing that we’re also going to get to have a baby. And so yeah, we had her for a while, and then we had some other older kids coming in. And that’s just kind of been our story is that we just keep saying yes. And these kids just keep showing up. And it’s been beautiful. It’s been really beautiful. And so now, the current situation at the record household is we have twin three year old boys that are biological, we have our six year old biological son, and then we have a 17 year old girl that we adopted in 2020. And then we have a 19 year old boy who we fostered when he was 13 for a few years, and now he’s actually back with us while we’re trying to help him get on his feet. And so that is Yeah, there’s a lot kind of in between that, but that’s kind of how it got started and where it is now. 

Meg: Wow, what a beautiful story. I I love that you were brave enough to ask the questions. Because, like you said, I would love to do that one day, but because we don’t know enough about it, whatever it is, whether it’s foster care or something else, like Oh, one day. But if we don’t ask the questions that one day, like just won’t come. So I loved that. You were just like, tell me, I need to know everything. That was powerful.

So I know, you said that you had talked about dreaming one day, but how far back?  How old were you when foster care first landed on your heart?

 

When Foster Care First Came On The Radar

Emily: Yeah, I think I was either in middle school or high school, when I really started to think about it because I had met some kids at school that were in the system. And I just remember knowing that about them, and just wondering what their lives were like, and then just watching like TV and movies and seeing how foster parents, it oftentimes just gets portrayed in a really negative light. And you watch that. And you just think, man, I wonder if it’s really as bad as you think.

Being a Christian and understanding how important it is for us to care for the widows and the fatherless. It’s something that I felt, man if I can, I would love to do that someday. I don’t know what that would look like, I don’t know what my capacity will look like, as a mom. But if I have it, the capacity, I want to be able to say yes to that. And so when we were dating, I remember asking my husband like, hey, what would you ever think about foster care adoption? Like we need to get this out on the table here. And the cool part was he was on board too. 

Again, I don’t think we thought we would probably do it before and get licensed before we had any biological babies. But then when the need was so great, it was like, Well, how important is this to you guys? Like I felt like that was the question being asked to my heart how much do you really mean that you care about this? Because if you really say you care, and it matters to you, and it’s your job to take care of these kids in your community, then what are you willing to give up? To say yes, now instead of Yes, later, when you think you’re going to be more ready down the road? Like what would it look like for you to just say yes now and trust that it’s gonna work out and you’re gonna know what you need to do as it goes along? Instead of thinking like, Oh, 10-20 years down the road maybe when our kids are out of the house, we’ll have capacity to do it. So yeah, it actually helped that my husband was on board with it. 

 

Being On The Same Page As Your Partner

That’s probably a question I get asked a lot just whenever I do a Q&A on my Instagram. I’ll ask people, what questions do you have? What do you want to know? I will get an overwhelming amount of questions of people saying what do I do if my spouse isn’t on board or my partner’s not on board? I just tell people like me and I just think it’s so important that you guys are on the same page before you get into this because, man, it will put you through the wringer. It will put your relationship, your marriage through the wringer because it’s exhausting. 

It really is like when you put a teabag in water and it kind of diffuses out you see what’s really in there. And I feel like that’s what happened to our marriage when we had these teenage boys in our home and then we also had a baby And then we had another and it was just like, all these things were happening. And at the end of every day, it felt like we had been through a battle at times. And if we weren’t strong, and we weren’t united together in the mission of loving these kids, then it would have just made it so much worse for me to feel alone in my marriage, while I was trying to pour out into these kids to be poured into by my husband, and to know that we were a strong unified front to the children made all the difference in the world, right? 

Meg: Yeah, definitely. I could see that. And you reminded me when you’re telling that story of that quote, if not you, then who? I asked myself all the time, because I think it’s easy to be like, Oh, I would love to do that. But if not you, then who? So I love that you guys were just like, there’s a need, and we’re gonna do it. And when you said that you had planned to just have six and under and then you never got that age, it reminded me how people say, we plan and God laughs

 

Fostering Younger Kids

Emily:  So, yes, totally, very much the case on that, right. I mean, we even got a six year old, but we didn’t have under six. Yeah, it’s actually been really interesting now that I’m now that Cash is six, actually just turned six in January. And I kind of had the thought about this little boy who came into our home and he was six years old. And I just remember taking him. I remember going to the Department of Social Services in our town. And there were either five or six siblings together, and they were getting split up into different places. And they were young. And I’ll never forget that day, just watching them have to say goodbye to their siblings, and he got in my car. And I said where do you want to go for dinner? And he said, McDonald’s, I’m like, we’re going to McDonald’s. And it was the only thing I could get him to say was where you wanted to go for dinner. And he didn’t talk the entire time. And his little heart was just so crushed. 

Now that I have a six year old son, at the time, I just didn’t even know what six year old –I wasn’t around a lot of six year olds –I don’t really know like, what are they really? What do they really like? What do they know what’s going on? And now that I have a six year old man, the thought of him just getting ripped away from his siblings put with a lady that he’s never met before and taken to McDonald’s and expected to just answer her questions and smile at her. It would be really difficult for him. 

So yeah, I mean, we’ve always had these older kids, but now six feels a lot younger. Now that I have a six year old. I’m like, oh, he was a baby. So yeah, definitely struck me differently now thinking about him. And I actually know where he’s at now and have stayed in touch with him and the family that adopted him. So that’s another cool part of it is there’s been some really beautiful redemption in his story. 

Meg: That gave me chills. So what’s your response to when people say things like, Oh, I can never do anything like foster care? I don’t have the heart for it. As in like, it would be too hard to say goodbye. I think that is that something you hear often? 

 

What It Takes To Be A Good Foster Parent

Emily: Yeah, that’s definitely a thing. All because people will say, I would love to do that. But I would just get too attached. I hear that. And I’m like, well, then good you’d actually be great at it. Because we need people to say yes, who do love deeply and care deeply and get too attached. I mean, that’s actually a good thing. If it’s really difficult for you to watch the child get reunited with their family or go to an adoptive family. That’s a good thing, it would be a little worrisome to me, if people could just watch the child leave and be fine. 

But really, the thing is, it’s your mindset going into it. It just has to be so about what’s best for that child. And you really have to put yourself in the backseat and put their needs first. And so if you’re doing it out of something, to make yourself feel better, or to be able to feel like a good person, then yeah, it is going to be too hard for you. But if you’re thinking what is best for this child, and you go in knowing that the goal of foster care is actually reunification, until the court changes it from reunification to adoption, or guardianship. That is what your goal is, as a foster parent is to support whatever the court is saying needs to happen. 

So yeah, I think we should just love without abandon and we shouldn’t hold anything back. And we should love these children as if they’re our own for as long as we have them. And we should get too attached to them. But it doesn’t mean that after they leave that it’s not difficult. It will be and you’re gonna have some good cries. It’s gonna be difficult because if you really do love them well and get attached It’s hard, but it’s still so worth it. And it goes back to that. 

Well, if you’re such a loving person, and you can’t do it, would you rather have other people doing it who are only doing it to make the paycheck? No. We need people who love deeply and care deeply. But they have to also have that element of selflessness that says, This isn’t about how I feel sad when a child leaves, it’s about what’s actually best for this child down the road. And so that’s hard. That’s not an easy thing to do. I say it and I make it sound like it’s easy, but it’s actually really difficult. But again, so worth it.

Meg: Yeah. Wow, that is real, that’s a really good response. I love that a lot. So what is your favorite part about foster care?

Whimsy + Wellness episode 12 opening your home and heart to fostering

The Beauty Of Foster Care

Emily: So, for me, one of my favorite parts has been watching. And this is another thing people actually ask me about a lot. I already have kids at home. What’s it going to be like for them to have other kids coming in? Is that going to mess with their development and birth order and all these things? And I mean, I appreciate birth order. I’ve read books about it. But we threw all that out the window when we said yes, because it’s like, my firstborn was the baby of all these boys. He had three older brothers when he came into the world. And then for a little season, he was the oldest and now he’s in the middle and he’s been everywhere all over the spectrum. 

But my favorite part has been watching my biological Babies love on any foster children that come into our door, any children who come in, man, it is really powerful to watch the way that they can just love and accept. They are like this great buffer actually, between like you and the child, for any awkward moments that could happen, any silent awkwardness is totally out the window, because you’ve got all these loud, crazy kids running around. 

So even thinking about when our 17 year old, she was 15 at the time, but when she came to our house, we had taken a break from fostering because the twins were born. And we were a little bit at capacity, which we knew, which is another thing that I’ll talk about probably later, but like, you have to know your capacity. And so we took a break, but I was feeling this sense of getting back into it. And so we had just prayed about the right person coming in the right child coming in, and our girl walked through the front door. And then the way my boys just welcomed her in and loved her. And they had made cards for her bedroom door. And the way our community just came in and donated this and donated that and came over and helped me clean the room up and get it all ready for her. I’m just watching our friends and our family, especially my boys just love them so well. And they can feel so seen and appreciated. And a part of the family has been something that I really did not see coming but has been a really big tree and a really big gift to my heart as a mom.

Meg: I love that that is beautiful. And like, I remember hearing that we often want to protect our kids from pain. And so I’m sure people think, Oh, I don’t want to. I’m nervous about pursuing foster care with my own biological children because I don’t want them to be sad when they leave. But I remember it was probably Glennon Doyle or someone like that. That said if you write out the kind of human you want your child to be: compassionate and loving, all of that comes from experiencing loss and pain and seeing hard things. And so sheltering is probably not the right word, but protecting them from any kind of pain or seeing any kind of heartache or experiencing loss, whether it’s through grief, someone passing away or just a foster placement leaving.

Meg: Yeah, it’s hard, but it’s also such a gift to see who they’re forming and to be. So I love that.  So what is the hardest part? 

 

The Hard Parts Of Fostering

Emily: Yeah. The other side of that coin is that it is really difficult when they do leave.  Watching my son say goodbye was really difficult, especially this one sweet son that we had. They got really close, and he still asks me about him all the time. And it just hasn’t been an easy relationship for us to keep up which has been very difficult and I thought maybe by now he would have forgotten but this boy’s name still comes up on a weekly basis at our house. That actually is hard to watch. But again, like you said, I still wouldn’t trade it because I want my son to have a tender heart. And I want him to know that we weren’t afraid to say yes to hard things. 

The other thing that is difficult is shared parenting. And shared parenting is basically you working alongside birth mom and birth dad or whoever to get the child back. And so like I said, the goal of reunification, the goal of foster care is reunification. So that can be really hard because as a foster parent, you may think you may have your own ideas in your head of what is best for this child, why they shouldn’t go back to mom and dad. And they may even be good reasons. 

But when it comes down to it, your job is to work with mom and dad to get the kids back to them. And so I didn’t quite know, I mean, we learned about it in the class getting licensed, but until you’re actually thrown into the situation where it’s Christmas Day, and shared parenting you could choose to meet at a public place, or a park or something. Or you could also choose to invite the parent into your home, if you feel like it’s a safe thing for them to come over. So we did some of that and we did some holidays, where our boy’s birth mom would come over for a little bit. And there were times mixed in where they said they were coming, and then they never did. And then we were left to pick up the pieces. And so that was just hard. And it was kind of awkward. And it was not my favorite part. But it’s also such an important part. 

I found that the more that we said yes to it, and the more that we opened up our hearts towards something that was difficult, the better and better it was for our kids for, for the children who are in her care. Because when they can see when they can see people in their life who they love, and they see as their parents coming together. That is like one of the best things you can give your kids even if there’s conflict, even if it doesn’t really make sense to be friends, the fact that you would work together to create an experience for these children, they need to see that and they need to see how loved they are. And so it’s definitely hard. But again, one of those things thats really worth it. And I know it meant a lot to our boys.

Meg: So yeah, and like you said a couple questions ago, like it’s best for the child or the teenager even if it’s not the most fun for you. So what’s something or a few things that you didn’t expect or see coming about foster care or being a foster mom?

 

Finding The Unexpected In Fostering

Emily: As I kind of mentioned, I didn’t expect to have teenagers.I felt I was young. So I kind of got thrown right into mothering teenagers, and I just didn’t see that coming, I figured it would be younger kids, which was kind of scary anyway, having never been a mom before, but it really just leveled up with the teenager thing. And so that kind of threw me for a loop a little bit, but we figured it out. And just going to meetings at schools and dentist appointments and doctor’s appointments and talking my 13 year old into trying out for soccer and having to drag him onto the field and put the cleats on his feet and push him out there. Those are not things I thought I would be doing when I was still in my 20s. But, I was just doing it and making t-shirts and signs and cheering him on and watching him come into someone with confidence and watching him put on his jersey when he did make the team and look at himself in the mirror and just be so proud. This is the first time he’s ever played a sport. So I didn’t really see all of that coming, like how beautiful it was gonna be to get thrown into parenting these older kids. 

And then along with that is the shared parenting part. I didn’t know how involved that was going to be. I thought the social worker would probably just do most of that. And I could pull out and you can actually have that choice. I don’t know in every state and in every agency or whatever, but where we are, it’s the balls a little bit in your court as a foster parent. If you want to be getting together a lot or having them over your home or what you’re going to do. And so I think you would have just been easier to not make those to not invite mom and dad to come to the soccer games or the wrestling matches or whatever. But what I knew that child needed was to see me sitting there next to bio mom and us hanging out together, cheering him on together. 

I just didn’t really realize I was going to become like, it’s almost like the one social worker described it really well. She said, when someone asks how many people you Foster, she’s like, you should really just count the entire family. It’s not this Child and that child, if there was a mom involved or a dad involved. You were fostering that whole family, because you’re fostering the relationships between them. Before I became a foster parent, I just did not know how involved that part would be. So yeah, that was a surprise. But I mean, it. It’s challenging, but again, worth it. I’m always gonna say that so yeah.

Meg: So let’s talk about capacity. So when do you know you’re at capacity? How can you know that?Is it hard to kind of admit? Let’s dive into that a little?

 

Accepting Your Capacity Limits

Emily: Yeah. So what happens normally is and again, different everywhere, but this is just our experience, what happened for us was, they would kind of say, hey, what age? Are you thinking? It makes sense for you? Under six. Then calling us, Hey, we’ve got two kids who are 10 and 13. Well, the first one was a 14 year old girl, all right. We’re like, Alright, whatever, we’ll try it, we’ll see what happens. She was gonna go somewhere a few months ago permanently with grandparents. So we kind of knew we could figure it out for three months. 

With our next placement. It was 10 and 13 year old boys. And I’m asking questions on the phone how long is this going to be? Where are mom and dad? Like, is this reunification? And they can’t really give you any of those answers. And so you have to say yes. Without a lot of answers. And that’s hard for some people, I think, probably harder for my husband and me, as we talked about his enneagram versus mine. But you have to say yes, not knowing the length, or all the details. Mom and Dad are on the run, we don’t even know where they are when we get them. We don’t even know what’s going to happen. And so yeah, there has to be a certain level of you letting go of control when you say yes, because, man, you just don’t have the answers. And so that’s difficult. 

Capacity wise, what we found is, they’re just gonna keep calling until you absolutely give a very hard No. And so even when we had those boys, we were licensed to have three kids at the time. And so we would get a call, hey, do you guys have space for a 14 year old boy? And it’s like, okay we have the bed. But knowing what’s going on with these two boys and how at the end of every night, we are literally hitting the pillow. 

Like we just went through World War four, we probably shouldn’t say yes to another child right now probably not the best idea. So you have to be prepared to say no, when you know that you’re at capacity. And so this was actually something that we had to do. So those two boys actually went up for adoption. And at the same time, I found out I was pregnant with twins. And at that time, we had a seven year old foster son and had a two year old baby. And then I was pregnant with the twins. And we had the two boys. 

So it was just a big moment of like, what is about to happen here. I wanted to say yes, we can adopt those boys. But I knew how much they needed. I had been their mom for three and a half years. I had done their homework with them and taught them how to read. I knew the level of care and time they needed. And as much as I wanted to be supermom and say yes to everything, I knew we would not be able to give them the care that they absolutely deserved. If we had two newborn babies in the house, a seven year old and a two year old, and I knew they needed to be somewhere where someone could pour a lot more time and energy into them than what we would have capacity to give. 

And so it was a very difficult decision. I mean, I cried, and I prayed and I cried more. And it was really cool. Actually there was a couple that came to us, we didn’t go to them at all. But they came to us and said, Hey, could we adopt those boys? And we were just like, Wait, what? It’s very rare for teenage boys, for people to adopt teenage boys. Like you were talking about that, that group home down the road from you. Usually those group homes are full of teenage boys, because they’re the hardest to find homes for. And so I knew the weight of that. 

So when this family came, I was like, Oh, it’s gonna be a lot of work let me tell you what the evenings are like at my house right now. And they knew. They’d been over a few times. So anyway, that’s why that capacity part is important. Because you’re going to want to say yes to everything. But if you don’t feel like you have what it really takes to give them what they deserve, you’ve got to be willing to put up the white flag and say, we can’t be the ones to do it. 

So after the twins were born, we actually and my husband was very instrumental in this said, Hey, we are drowning right now under newborns. So we need to say no. We need to have a game plan. And so he actually called them and just said, Hey, don’t call us for a bit. Let’s let these babies start walking at least or something. And so we did, we got called a few times still. And we had to say no. And it was really hard I didn’t want to. 

But then when it was the right time is when our daughter came into our lives. And that turned into a pretty quick adoption situation. And so, again, just knowing the season, knowing the time, being on the same page with your partner to say Alright, where are you thinking? I don’t know that he would have opened our home backup as early as I would have. But me coming to him and saying, I’m feeling this, here’s why. I think we have the capacity, and him saying, alright, let’s see what happens. And now we’re so glad we did. Because we got to have our daughter, and she’s amazing. I think you have to just be aware of where you’re at.

Meg: Yeah. so that’s a good transition to talk about fostering teens. So it’s, if people follow along with you, they know your heart for fostering teens. But that, I think, is something that a lot of people like swear they’d never do. Or like, I could never foster a teen, and even me growing up down the street from the group home, it was always kind of like, around town, like oh, that’s not a good place, or whatever. And it’s so unfortunate, and I feel grateful just from following you. I obviously was a little girl when I was growing up near that group home, but then followed along with you, and you telling your story and sharing your heart for fostering teams. I just had this huge moment of compassion and empathy for those boys in the home down the street from me, and just everywhere that it probably is this assumption that people make that I can never do it, it must be awful. So can you kind of share your heart on it and like, why you love fostering teens?

 

The Benefits of Fostering Teens

Emily: Yeah, I think one of the coolest parts about fostering older kids is that they actually know what your yes means. A baby or a two year old, even a four or a six year old, I don’t know that they fully understand. They’re in your house and you’re the one feeding them breakfast every morning and giving them a bath and getting them out the door or whatever. But I don’t know that they fully understand the weight of your Yes.

 Whereas with our older kids, man, like I remember when the boys first came and they were, they had bounced around quite a bit. And so they kind of knew the drill they came in. They were amazed that our house had two stories. It wasn’t even like 1800 square feet, which to them was a mansion. I mean, they were telling all their friends, they lived in a mansion because they lived upstairs. And then I remember the younger one, we went on a walk or something. And like the first night, they still talk about this. They remember like what we had for dinner, they remember what we were wearing, like my 19 year old is the one that that was when he first came and he was like, I thought you were some crazy hippie lady, because you were wearing like some head wrap and these like bell bottoms. And he’s like, I did not know what we were getting ourselves into. We ate spaghetti. And you had broccoli on my plate. And I’m like, yep, yep, yep. 

But I remember that his younger brother was kind of acting up a little bit and nothing even major, but it was just being a little goofy. And I remember him, like I didn’t know I could hear but I remember him pulling his brother aside and being like, stop it, do not mess this up for us. And just the weight of him having to think like, if we’re not good enough, then they’re gonna ask us to leave. And that’s a very real situation for these kids. And so for him as a 13 year old boy to have to carry that into coming into my home gosh. It just hit me hard. 

I remember thinking like, I’m going to do everything in my power to never have to ask these kids to leave. I do not want to be the person that asked them to leave to make them think that anything that they did, got them here into this position in the first place. And so I just think they know your Yes, they know how. I mean, I feel like they knew how naughty they were. They were very rowdy. And they are always doing these crazy things up in their room and driving me absolutely insane. And like bedtime was so long. I was like, why can’t you just go to bed and you’re always coming down, I’m going up and there’s holes in the wall and like they it’s like they know what they bring to the table. 

And so for them to feel unconditional love from someone when they don’t think that they deserve it because they haven’t actually been shown it a lot of times in their life. I just think that is such a privilege as a parent to get to give that to someone. And I think you do the same thing with younger kids, but I just don’t know if they would grasp the weight of it in the same way. 

So even now with our 19 year old for him to just tell me. He calls me Ma, he’s like, Mom, you’re like, you’re the one mom I’ve had who’s always gonna be there for me, aren’t you? And I’m like, Yeah, man I’m not going anywhere. Here we are, you’re about to turn 20. And so I just think that’s special. I think it’s a gift that we can give our love and our time and our home and our support and our unconditional love, no matter how crazy you get no matter if you throw your backpack at me, when you come in the door. If you’re failing all of your classes, if you call a kid a bad name of the Boys and Girls Club, like I’m going to pick you up and I’m going to bring you home. This is your home is just a really powerful gift to be able to give. And so I didn’t mean for that to be our story over and over again. But it has been and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Meg: Yeah, that is beautiful. And I’m just again so grateful that you have shared not just your love for foster care, but for fostering teens, because I think it made a difference for me and how I viewed the boys down the street from me when I was growing up. It really made me stop and think like, wow, that must have been awful for them. I think it’s so important to use our voice online and educate people. That just really beautiful that they know the weight of it is huge. So let’s kind of get into the basics of foster care. Some of these questions are hard to find online. So just how big of a need is there for foster parents?

 

The Need For Foster Care

Emily: Yeah, I don’t remember the exact number, I would have to Google it. I looked it up recently, because somebody had asked me the number of kids in the foster care system in the States, but it’s huge. It’s an ever growing problem. And what’s even more sad is that the statistics for the amount of kids who age out of foster care and for the boys, it’s such a high number end up in jail, or the girls end up on food stamps, like it’s a staggering statistic. So that, for me, that is what breaks my heart. 

A lot of times these kids who do come in, bounce around from home to home. The home our daughter had been in, we were the fifth home in a year that she had come to. And so for her the need is great. I remember I went to art when the social worker would come to me and say, Hey, we need more families, and I’d be like, well, how many are there in our county? We live in a pretty small area, it’s a rural area. There were 9 or 10 families that were doing it. And just us saying, Yes, raised awareness and caused more people to want to say yes, to the point where now there’s like 30. 

A lot of those are from our church, over half of them. And at the time, nobody in our church was doing it. And so to watch the number of licensed foster families in our community grow, especially people who knew us and had seen our story and watched us do it. That just gave me so much hope. Because if everyone who is doing it starts to share about it and talk about it, then their whole group of people, their whole circle of influence is hearing about it. And it’s becoming more real. And there’s the chance that the same thing could happen with them. 

That is how we can see this change, we can see more and more people say yes, because they watch it on practical display in front of them in their community, or even through online. Like you were saying sharing it online. And so that’s why I agree with you that it is really important to share the stories because I don’t think the need is going to change. I think the number is going to stay the same. But hopefully there’s less aging out of and more adoptions happening into homes that are full of love and security for these kids.

Meg: Yeah. And that just goes to show the power of your Yes even if someone only Foster’s one child, if they tell 10 of their friends. Your Yes isn’t capped off at the children who have come into your home. It’s so true. That is so amazing. Wow. So this might be an obvious question, but I think people sometimes wonder this or they just assume the worst of the worst. So can you kind of talk on why children might be in foster care for people who don’t know?

Whimsy + Wellness episode 12 opening your home and heart to fostering

Reasons Children End Up In Foster Care

Emily: Yeah, so a lot of these situations that we have dealt with have been, maybe just neglect that’s happening for the children. If a neighbor sees that kids are at home a lot by themselves, or they’re coming to school, and they’re not clean, and they’re wearing the same clothes, five days in a row, or whatever, and teachers start to notice that, they may call the Department of Social Services called Child Protective Services, and open up a case against this family to just look deeper and see what’s really going on in the home. 

Parents may be arrested for something, put in jail, there may not be any family members to be able to take those kids in. The first thing they normally do is look for what family is around.Is it a grandparent, an auntie and uncle, even a family friend who could take the children in. That’s called kinship care when they can do that. But if they exhaust all the resources, and there’s nowhere safe for the children to go, that’s when they come into foster care. 

So there may even be mental health issues with mom and dad, where they’re just not able to actually provide a stable home life for those children. And so there’s a number of things that it could be, but a lot of times, the kids are scooped up by family members or friends of the family. But what we’ve seen, the children who come into our home, there is no family who would say yes. And that actually is, gosh, it’s hard. That’s probably one of the other really hard things is that oftentimes, with our placements, we would be out with this child in the grocery store, and they would see their grandma like walking down the aisle, and they’d be like, Granny, and I’m like, that’s your grandpa? I’m introducing myself as the person who’s caring for this child, and it would just create some awkward moments, especially living in a small town. But that’s just the reality of it is that there’s not always going to be a family member or friend who can step in. And so that’s when foster parents get the phone call. And those social workers have a list of people that they can call and they would tell us sometimes, listen, you’re our last phone call, we know your house is full. But can you take this child? I’m like, Don’t tell me I’m the last call you have. That’s gonna make that really hard for me to say no. But yeah, those are some of the reasons. Sorry, I got a little off track there. 

 

It’s Not A Black & White Situation

Meg: No, you’re, you’re totally fine. And I like I think that’s so important that the list is just endless. So we can’t assume you know that. It’s one way like, oh, it must be this, because it’s just endless. I remember even watching army wives.They’re a single mom, had to be deployed and her children had to go into foster care. I never even thought of that. But then when I was preparing for this episode, and I was thinking about that Wow, that is another reason that wasn’t ever on my radar. So I just think the list is endless, and we can’t really assume.

Emily: Yeah, and you can’t always just assume that like mom and dad are bad guys, because they got put into the system. Like I said, mental health could be the problem. And that’s not something that they have a lot of control over. Sometimes there is neglect on their part. And there’s drugs involved or substance abuse, but there are also times when they’re doing their dang best. And it’s just not enough, there’s not enough support in place for them to be able to hold down a job or to hold down transportation to get the kids to school, or to get them what they need. 

I think my heart has really softened towards bio parents and this whole thing. And people will often say to me oh, man aren’t you so glad that they’re not going back into that situation? And I’m like, actually, it breaks my heart. Like I am deeply saddened by the fact that these children aren’t going to get to go back with their mom. I love her and my heart is for her. And I was rooting for her the whole time. I wanted to see her succeed. We were doing everything we could to help her get what she needed to be able to get her daughter back. But that’s just not the way it happened. And so, yeah, you’re right, though. It’s easy, I think it’s a black and white thing. Like they’re bad or they’re good. And it’s not always the situation.

Meg: Yeah. And it’s often a cycle of, you don’t know if that parent was in the system and because like you said girls that age out of foster care often end up on food stamps, and then you think a lot of these are just cycles, and no one has seen unconditional love. You answered like a bunch of my questions. Good job with reunification being the end goal. How can foster parents work towards that?

 

Working Towards Reunification

Emily: Yeah, so one of the ways it’s very practical, but if you end up with a child in your care, getting photos of their family up on your fridge, right away. Not oh, you can have a photo album that you keep in your room, but knowing that your family is so important to us that they’re getting real estate on our fridge right next to our family photos from Christmas. And we’re gonna frame it and put it right up here next to the family on the mantle or whatever. So they just know that  you think that their family is important. 

I didn’t know that right away. No one told me that right away. But along the way, after talking to other foster parents and talking to other social workers who deeply care about reunification and shared parenting, that idea was given to me and it has made a huge difference, I can tell. I can tell our girl knows even now that we’ve adopted her, the pictures are still up there. And we still fight for her to have close connections with anyone from her past, her mom, her brother, her uncle, like all these different people. 

We’ve even taken trips for her to meet family she’d never met before in different states, just because those connections are so important for these kids. Like I was saying earlier, just on holidays, taking the time to help them figure out how they can be with either their family or their friends that they were connected to before they came to you. It can be hard, because you have to sacrifice your perfect Christmas Day, or whatever are your traditions that you may have in order to make it work. But it will really show those kids that you care a lot. 

I will always want as a foster parent, if it doesn’t end up going towards reunification, it doesn’t end there. I want those kids to know that I did everything in my power to help it go there. I don’t want them to think that I tried to keep that from happening. And so I feel like my husband and I have been on the same page with that. And it’s made a big difference. Just as far as the kids knowing that we actually did our best to try with our boys, they actually went back with their dad for a three month trial period. And our community rallied for them. We helped him find a place where we got bunk beds for the kids, shower curtains, toothbrushes, like groceries, we set them all up in there. So he had everything that he needed to be providing for those boys. And in the end, it actually didn’t end up working out. But they know we tried. They know that we didn’t like trying to keep them from going back with him. I think that’s what’s really important.

Meg: Yeah, for sure. So how do you go about becoming a foster parent?

 

How To Become A Foster Parent

Emily: So you can go through your county, or you can go through a private agency, I have no experience working with an agency. So that’s a question you have to ask someone that’s done that. I’ve only ever gone through my county and the Department of Social Services is what it’s called here in North Carolina. You can just you can talk to a social worker and ask, what’s the licensing process like in my county? 

In ours it’s classes that you go to on Tuesday and Thursday nights for a certain number of weeks, and you learn from a teacher. They bring foster parents and let you ask questions. There’s a curriculum that you go through, where you learn about trauma, and you learn about shared parenting and reunification and what everything is going to look like. And then there’s also a lot of background checks that happen, and home studies of them coming out to your home to make sure –I mean, I have one friend who desperately wants to be a foster mom, but she has a marsh in her backyard. And she rents and they won’t put a fence up. So she can’t be a foster mom, because the marsh is back there. And it’s dangerous for the kids. So even things like that, I mean, you have to be in a certain place, they’re gonna check all of that out. They’re gonna have the fire marshal come out to your house and check all of your house or Windows, make sure you have a fire escape plan. Things like that. 

So you’ll get the list of everything and you can just complete it. There’s even a physical, you have to go get from your doctor to sign off that you’re healthy enough to be a foster parent. So you’ll get a list when you go to the classes and all those things. And it’s just a matter of checking all the boxes, and getting that all taken care of. Even though I bashed Google a little bit, I want to take that back because you can just google your county and foster. Right. And then that’s how you can find the social worker. Yeah, for sure.

Meg: Alright, so how long does it take to become certified?

 

The Length To Become A Certified Foster Parent

Emily: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think it’s probably different for everyone. For us. It was eight months. From the time we started to the time we were finally licensed. It kind of depends on how desperate they are in your county. I know they can expedite things if they’re really needing people. But I would say just put in your head that it’s probably going to be a year. If it’s less than a year, you can be delighted and surprised. 

But that’s why I tell people to start taking the steps if you even have an inkling of wanting to do it. Because you can start the process and you can stop if you get to a point where actually this isn’t working for us, or you’re going to classes you’re like, I don’t really think this is for us. Or you can even get licensed. And you don’t have to say yes to every phone call. You can wait until you get the phone call that actually really works for you and your capacity and your family. You can either provide respite care, once you’re a licensed foster parent, you could provide respite care for other foster parents. Or if a child just needs a place for a night before a family member can get in town to come and get them. There’s all kinds of things like that. So I think if you have any desire to just start the process, and then just know that it’s gonna be a while. So if you want to do it, start now so that you have the time to figure all that out.

Meg: Okay. Yeah, I think that’s something that surprised me when I started following different foster moms. How long the processes are even just following people who were trying to get certified and sharing their stories. So it definitely takes patience and perseverance. But it’s so worth it. I feel like that’s the motto of this episode and is so worth it. Hashtag worth it. 

Okay, what can people working towards getting certified expect when they’re waiting? Or what kinds of things can they expect to happen?I know, you mentioned that it takes a year or so probably setbacks?

 

What To Expect During The Process

Emily: Yeah, I think, honestly, getting all of our paperwork together and everything done. And then they sent it to the capital of our state. And then it took weeks before we ever heard anything. So just be patient and prepare your heart and just enjoy the peace and calm until you do get the phone call, and you say yes, because then once you’re licensed, in our experience, you’re going to get the phone call. So, just chill and get it done and take care of it, and then be patient and then wait, because it’s coming. 

I think just having a room ready. Have a room and a dresser, and a bed and a closet and all of that. And it can be kind of tricky, because you think, man, I just want to have everything ready to go. So when they get here, it just feels like home. And I do think it’s important for it to feel cozy for them. But what I think is really cool is if you even just set aside some money, maybe your friend will say how can we help out, give us a Target gift card or an Amazon gift card or whatever. And then you can take the child shopping or have them look online and kind of choose some of their own things for their room. Because based on their age, and their interests, it could be totally different things that they want to choose for their own. And what we’ve found is normally they don’t come with much. It’s like a trash bag or two. 

So for them to be able to pick things out that they’re putting in the room that now actually feel like theirs. Because if they walk into the room, and it’s already put together, it feels like that’s your stuff that they’re living in that world, right? It’s your world. Yeah. But if they get to go to Target and pick out their comforter and pick out a stuffy or their pajamas or whatever, then it feels like these are my items, I chose them. And there’s something special about that our kids have really enjoyed that.

Meg: Yeah, that’s a really good piece of advice. Can you if you have a placement that’s not going well? If I’m sure that’s a common concern. So if you have a placement that isn’t going well, can you for lack of a better word backout, can you call and say, this isn’t going well? Or how does that work?

Whimsy + Wellness episode 12 opening your home and heart to fostering

When Fostering Isn’t Going Well

Emily: Yes, you can. And I think the term for it is an interruption. Interruption might not be the right word, there’s a specific term for it. And they try to limit the number of that happening to a child because like I said, with our daughter, the fact that she had to go to five different homes in a year, that’s devastating. And that’s why I tell people to know your capacity and don’t say yes, unless you really feel like you are up for it. Because you don’t want to have to make that phone call. 

I mean, they’re really good about once a foster parent calls and says this isn’t working, they’re gonna do their damn best to get the kid out of there as fast as they can, because they do not want that child in a home where they’re not wanted, right? Because that’s when things can start to go bad. And that’s when it can just get messy. So they’re going to do their best to get the kid out of there when you call and say that. 

But to just think of the weight of that phone call having to make as a parent. And it is honestly  God’s kindness that we’ve never had to make that phone call. But I know friends who have and it is haunting you for the rest of your life? Did I do the right thing? Could I have handled more? So that is something that’s one of the hardships for sure. But you totally can, I would just say, before you put your yes on the table for that placement and that child, do your best to know that you’re going to do everything you can to not have to make that phone call.

I just thought of the word of what that’s called not an interruption. It’s a disruption. So if you think about it, it’s disrupting that child. They’ve been put in this home, this is your new mom and dad, for now, this is your room, this is the school you’re gonna go to, and then all of a sudden, just you’re ripped out of it. Sojust as few disruptions as possible, just for the child’s sake.

Meg:  Okay. How does adoption become an option? Do you get the first choice to adopt? Or how does that work?

 

Foster To Adoption

Emily: When it comes to adoption, once the plan changes to adoption, I mean, in our situation, the foster parents are the first people to be asked if you’re interested in adopting in our county. You have to be licensed to foster. But to adopt it’s two separate licenses. And so we were only registered and licensed to foster. And then when our daughter and her plan changed from reunification to adoption, the social workers wanted the child to be able to stay where they are. 

So we were asked, Hey, would you be up to do this? And of course, we were super excited to say yes and so we just had to go through a couple more background checks and do some more paperwork, and then we were licensed to adopt. So yeah, that’s pretty much how that works. There’s also an option for kids to choose guardianship as well, which is a little bit different than being adopted. And a lot of teenagers will choose that over adoption. We gave our daughter the option, if you want to want us to be your guardians, we’ll do that. Or we’ll adopt you, we’re going to treat you the same either way you’re going to be loved and cared for. But she chose adoption.

Meg: So what’s the difference between the two?

 

The Difference Between Guardianship & Adoption

Emily: When you adopt a child, their birth certificate is changed to your name as their parent. It’s a really permanent thing. And they get your last name, and they are who they are. It’s like you birthed them into the world at that point, which is really interesting, especially with older kids, because, um she’s very close to her mom. So they hang out all the time, and they’re closer than she and I probably ever will be, which is totally fine. 

So it’s almost weird to me that her birth certificate has my name on it now, because she’s so connected to her mom. Yeah, I was just talking to a friend about that recently, who’s adopted a couple of kids out of foster care as babies, and just how different our situations are. Me adopting a teenager and her adopting these, she got them when they were a few days old babies.  

So with guardianship, it’s a little less formal. And it’s more like you take care of that child, but there’s not this permanence of they are yours. They are a part of your family. And it says on paper that they belong to you, and you birthed them into the world, which is really interesting. And we kind of told her it. Like I said, it wouldn’t be any if we wouldn’t treat her differently either way, but she wanted the permanency of adoption. And I think a lot of kids probably do, they might even be afraid to say it when they get to a certain age.

Meg: Yeah, for sure. So will someone ever feel ready to be a foster parent? Is there ever a right time? Or is it just something at some point, we need to start?

 

When Is The Right Time To Foster?

Emily: Yeah, I think there probably are for some people. There’s a right time. And I mean, my husband was deployed for a year to Afghanistan, when we first got married. That wouldn’t have been the right time, right? It wouldn’t have been something that I probably thought would have been cool. But instead I got a dog because that was a lot less of a commitment. I think I got like two cats and a dog. Like I just needed things. 

So you have to know where you’re at. I mean, again, it goes back to the capacity question like, how is your mental health? How is your marriage going if you’re married? What is the dynamic in your family? If you already have kids? How are things going? Do you feel like it’s constant chaos, or do you feel like it’s a controlled chaos? Or do you feel like things are spinning out of control, because it’s fitting out of control and you add in these children who are In the foster care system, it’s probably just gonna get a little crazy. 

I think you do have to know where you’re at. But I don’t know that it’s ever going to feel like oh my gosh, we were just made for this and everything, it’s going to be so great and so easy. You just know going into it that you’re going to have to adjust and it’s going to be difficult, and not putting your yes on the table is going to mean that you’re adding to the chaos, you’re adding to the crazy, but it’s worth it. And you have to be willing to say yes, even though it’s scary and you don’t feel prepared. But I do think there’s probably some people who if you’re struggling really hard with your health, or your marriage or in being a parent, it might not be the best thing for you.

Meg: So it’s similar to preparing or deciding about having a biological kid. But like, when you’re thinking about it, you’re like, are we ready for this? Or?  So let’s say someone like the baby comes, and you find that you just adjust, right? Like, don’t ever feel like, you don’t ever feel like oh, I’ve got this totally figured out, bring the baby in. I’m gonna be, I know how to be up all night. I know how to, you don’t, but you figure it out. And I think it’s the same way with becoming a foster parent, you don’t know how to be a shared parent, you don’t know how to talk to them even but you figure it out over time. So that’s to encourage people who might feel like they’re not ready. Even if it might feel like the right time, you’re never going to have all the answers. There’s always going to be lots of unknowns. That’s where faith comes in.

Meg: Yeah. So let’s say someone’s listening to your story and thinking that they want to get into foster care, what’s something that they could do today, after they get done listening to move the needle?

 

How To Start Your Journey To Fostering

Emily: Absolutely. I would say, get in touch with a foster care social worker in your community, or someone who is a foster parent in your community. Just ask them the questions that you have. I know you’ve got them, because I know I had so many. And the best thing for me was sitting down with that social worker and saying, hey, I’ve got a lot of a lot of questions. 

You even asked me today what I asked her back then. And she was able to just put my mind at ease about a lot of things. So yeah, I don’t know, the agency thing is another option, but like finding a social worker to talk to, and they’re wanting to find foster parents. So she was eager to sit down with me at the coffee shop and talk to me. So I think most would be very open to having a conversation, they’ll probably be able to give you the information about the classes to get registered and licensed as well. But I think if you could sit down and just ask them the questions that would be helpful too.

Meg: Yeah. Okay. So any closing encouragement for people that are wanting to start their journey, they’re really considering it. They’re, Well, I think this is the right move. Do you have any heart advice?

 

Heart Advice For Future Foster Parents

Emily: Yeah, I think they hit on a lot of a lot of them already. Just that it’s difficult, but it’s worth it. It’s the same way with motherhood, right? It’s exhausting, at the end of the day are just like, what just happened, your time is so chaotic, and I’m really tired, but it’s worth it man. I’m getting to watch these little humans be loved and nurtured and I get to be the one that brings that into their lives. It is honestly, really a gift. 

So I just think if you’ve ever even had the smallest tug at your heart, that maybe you watched instant family, and you were like, Oh my gosh, that’d be so cool. Or you’re following some foster mom on social media and just admiring what she’s doing. If you’ve ever had a tug, you’re one of the people who needs to sit down with the social worker and ask the questions, because there aren’t enough people doing it who are actually willing to put in the hard work. And so just take that next step even if you have the coffee and you get down to it. Taking that step just to learn more and meet with someone would be huge. So I would encourage you to do that.

Meg: Perfect, okay. And then for people who maybe it’s not the right time for them, or they don’t feel like foster carers in their story, how can they still help? Because I know, I also can’t remember the number but it’s in the hundreds of 1000s of children in foster care in America. I’m really bad with retaining numbers, but I think it’s like two and five. I don’t know.

Whimsy + Wellness episode 12 opening your home and heart to fostering

How To Help Without Being A Foster Carer

Emily: It is. So I’m googling it right now. So I would just definitely say that 400,000 look at you and the United States. So I’m breaking. Yeah, it’s a big number. It’s a really big number. And so I would say, if you do not feel like you’re the person, you’re not at the place in time to actually open your home, you can also reach out to a social worker and say, hey, what would it look like for me to get together a few friends and us to really come alongside some foster families and bless some of the children in foster care for Christmas this year? They would love that they would be so excited if you said, we want to put together gift baskets and really just give these kids the best Christmas ever. 

Or if a foster parent, we’ve had people do this where they just say, Hey, I’m gonna send over a couple $100 for your kids for Christmas, and let them just go buy whatever they want. Take them on a shopping spree. We have had people just come alongside us and bless our kids in such huge amazing ways. Donating toys even just if you hear about a friend getting a child, say that’s around the same age as your kids like saying, Hey, kids, let’s go through the playroom and find some amazing toys, maybe not the broken ones, like your favorite ones, the ones you love to play with the most? And what would it look like for us to sacrifice those toys to go to this child who just got ripped out of their family or ripped out of another foster home and brought here?

We’ve seen people do that. People have given us their gaming consoles and their best Legos and Bob taking our kids to amazing trips or paying for them to go to a summer camp. And it is just such a boost in morale for us as the family but then also for those kids just know how loved they are not only by us, but by a community of people is powerful. Even just providing meals. Like if you find out that a family just got up and got a child, see if you can set up a meal train for them. See if you can organize some gift cards or something to go to the kids. All of that goes a really long way on a journey for foster parents and for children in the system who can feel very alone at times.

Meg: I love that so much. Okay. Are you ready for rapid fire?

Emily: Yes, I’m so ready.

Meg: A book you wish every woman would read? 

Emily: There is a book and I really am struggling for the name of this book right now. And I’m so glad you can edit this out. Because I knew that there’s a book that I read before we got our first placement about this woman who had fostered all of these kids. It was the best story ever. And it was hard. And she had these teenage boys. It really prepared my heart for what I was about to get into more than I ever could have known. I just forgot the name of it. And it’s on my bookshelf, but I forget the name of it. And so I need to find it and give it to you. That’s the book I would say, if you’re thinking about fostering but you’re like, it might be too hard. I would go and read this book by this woman because she’s done it. She’s done all these different things. And now she’s at that point in her life where she’s seeing them marry and they’re coming back to her and thanking her for what she did. And it sent me over the edge. I was crying the entire time I was reading it. So that’s the book. I would tell people as soon as podcasts listen to I just don’t know the name of it, which

Meg: I need to find it.

Emily: Yeah, Google, just like Google it. Oh, I might have to go to my bookshelf to get it. Because I don’t even know if it’s like a super popular book. But somebody sent it to me as a gift. And you could have never known that this was going to be my story. Because, again, I didn’t even know we were going to get older kids. And she was talking about it. I really want people to know about it. But I’m not finding it. 

Meg: It’s okay. rapid fire best parenting advice you’ve ever received.

Emily: The best parenting advice I’ve ever received would be to not take yourself too seriously as a parent. I mean, honestly, I feel like so many times. I want to make things a bigger deal than they really are when it comes to my kids. And if I can just get in and laugh and have fun with them, we are going to be doing so much better than if I’m trying to teach them some serious lesson. So that’s what’s worked for me.

Meg: What’s your guilty pleasure? Late night snack?

Emily: Oh, okay. It’s either peanut butter m&ms, or tropical Sour Patch Kids.

Meg: Oh my gosh, we are soul sisters. Tropical ones are so, so good. And why are peanut m&ms like the most addicting thing ever? They’re so good. They’re so good. Everyone that listens to the show knows this about me and they’re probably so annoyed about hearing about it. But have you had Justin’s peanut butter cups?

Emily: I have and they’re great, aren’t they?

Meg: I’m working so hard on a sponsorship for the white chocolate ones to nose.

Emily: Oh, I haven’t had those. Yeah, they’re delicious. Delicious.

Meg: Wow. Okay. Alright, fill in the blank. I’m inspired by…

Emily: My town. I love my town. It’s a small town but it’s been such a beautiful place and I’m very sentimental about leaving it soon to go to a bigger city and feeling a lot of feelings about it. There’s the way that people come together and take care of each other and just the beauty here. I find myself so inspired just living here for the past 10 years.

Meg: Yeah, I love that answer. what since we are Whimsy & Wellness. What is your go to essential oil roller or defeasible fund?

Emily: So glad you asked. so Valor. If people aren’t familiar with Valor, I’ve just got some right here. Gonna get on with it, just pull it up for those models right here. Black spruce, camphor, blue Tansy, frankincense and geranium. It is the one oil blend I would bring if I was on a deserted island and I only could bring one thing. Valor. And then what I love is mixing it with Cedarwood and the diffuser. And it’s like this happy combination I will add is like my go to diffuser blend when I’m at my desk, but I also love to just wear Valor as a perfume too.

Meg: It’s an emotional support. Very good. Well, I’m learning all these Valor blends because you shared that KC weekend shared Valor with Christmas spirit, which I have never tried. And it’s too good. I’m just learning new things. and last is super easy.Where can listeners find you, your family? How can they follow along with you?

Emily: Yeah, I’m on Instagram is usually where I’m hanging out the most in my stories. I’m like a big stories girl but my Instagram is Emily w Recker. Fun fact people think my last name is Wrecker with the W but Wrecker actually my middle initial and so. Emily w Recker is my Instagram handle. So that’s where I’m at. Yeah.

Meg: Well, thank you so much. I hope that I really think that this is going to be a powerful tool for people. So I really appreciate you coming on and sharing all about foster care.

Emily: Absolutely. I’m so honored that you had me. It’s been really fun.  I can’t wait to see what kind of fruit comes from people just hearing this and wanting to go take the next step.

Meg: Yeah, hashtag worth it.

Join Haylee Crowley, Creator of Whimsy + Wellness, and Meg Ryan, content creator at Whimsy + Wellness, to talk all things wellness, entrepreneurship, motherhood, and womanhood.

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