‘When we were just about done with the foster process, I GOT PREGNANT. I peed on 14 sticks because I couldn’t believe it. We thought we were ready. I didn’t realize the roller coaster it’d be.’

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“Taylor and I live the lives of over-worked, stressed-out, and exhausted 50 year olds, even though we are in our 20’s. We see friends traveling the world, partying it up, or just starting their little families. Sometimes I wish I could go back. I’m only 26 but my mind and body feel so much older.

When we decided to foster we knew we would be sacrificing. Sacrificing our time, our money, and even our young adulthood. And I’m not going to lie, sometimes it’s more difficult than I anticipated. And that’s the raw truth.

Fostering is hard. It’s exhausting. And I struggle so bad to find a balance in my life between everything I’m trying to accomplish.

Courtesy of Ciara Hoopes

And at the end of the day when I ask myself, is it worth it? You better believe it is. You better believe those hugs and snuggles and tears in your lap and emotional breakdowns is how these kids are coping. I can’t even imagine the pain or confusion these little ones have. And if I can be there and change even one child’s life, then you better believe it, it was worth every single second.

I guess I need to start from the beginning. When we decided to have kids it wasn’t as easy as we had hoped. We tried for a really long time with no hope we would ever be able to have children. We spent years trying different forms of medication, medical treatments, invasive procedures. We were both overwhelmed. It was really hard on our marriage. When you get married it’s easy to picture you having a family but when that doesn’t come… it’s hard. Really hard. And the reason we can’t have kids is because of me. It’s my body that was messed up, not his. I didn’t understand why as a woman I couldn’t do the one thing I was put on earth to do. It definitely was a struggle but we came out stronger in the end.

We really couldn’t afford to adopt and with every bit of my body aching to be a momma and have a little one to love we knew we needed to do something. We decided to start the foster care process. Whether or not we would be able to adopt in the end I knew I had to at least have little ones in my home to care for even if it was just a short time. We just had so much love to give! By the time we were just about done with the process I GOT PREGNANT! I peed on 14 sticks because I couldn’t believe it. Of course, right? Isn’t that how it always happens? Our foster process was put on hold for a little while.

Courtesy of Ciara Hoopes

Once my baby was 6 months old, we felt we should jump back in and really do it. We were ready. We thought we were anyway. I don’t actually know if you can really prepare – trauma-healing doesn’t take a break, like ever. And I don’t know if it ever really gets easier when they just ache for their mom even after having the best day with you. It’s an understatement to say fostering is mentally, physically and everything in between exhausting. I didn’t realize how much of a roller coaster of emotions it would be. Between therapy and counseling for them and running around doing visits with their parents – it’s like the emotions are always at an all time high.

I remember so many people telling us horror stories of foster care or questioning our decision to do it. People telling me I wouldn’t be able to love these children as much as my own. That it’s just in your DNA to love your biological children more. It broke my heart that people could even think that, let alone tell that to my face. Why should we put boundaries on our love? Having children whether you brought them into the world, adopted, or or fostered – all are amazing and one is not better than the other. Your heart has the potential to grow more than you realize. And yeah I mean let me tell you straight, there’s days I have felt like I was babysitting someone else’s kids. You come in expecting everything to just fall into place and well… it doesn’t work like that. It takes time.

Our first little guy was with us for about a year. When he first came it was awkward. We were all just trying to find a new normal. He was confused and we really didn’t know how to act. I was scared because I felt like I really had no idea what I was doing. We had a 6 month old baby and then we added an emotional 5 year old to the mix and I had no idea what I was doing as a parent. We figured it out on the way.

He was the perfect addition to our family. He was funny and quirky and picked up the same humor we had. He was seriously the best! And then Christmas Eve came and he went home to his mom. We’ve yet to hear anything about him or where he is now and all I can hope is the judge was right in her decision to reunify. I pray hard for that little boy every single day.

Courtesy of Ciara Hoopes

After that, I decided I was done. Done with fostering. It was emotionally exhausting and I was depressed. I couldn’t even walk into O’s room without busting out into tears. I didn’t want to live through that again. So days, weeks, months went by. And then we got a call to do respite.

We decided we would take the kids (6-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl) for just a weekend so their current foster family could go out of town. And man were we in for a treat. They were nothing like O. They were emotional. And man were they picky. They refused to eat anything but pizza on their plate, not even lying. It was the LONGEST weekend of my life. During that time, I found out they had been with 4 different families in the last 6 months. No wonder these poor kids were so dang hard! They had no idea what was normal! They didn’t know how to act. Any adult was basically mom or dad to them, but really that meant nothing. And here we are, months later, and these kids are with us. And it’s been a ride. Some days we are high and some days we are low. Very low. But we are doing the best we can and I think sometimes that’s just what they need. The best person you can be for them. Someone who can teach them to be a friend, to love others, to be kind to everyone, and basically just be good human beings.

I can’t think of a specific time that bonded us, but a month after they had been with us, we were playing games on the floor as a family. We were all laughing so hard and you know, just happy. I remember looking around and thinking man, this is my family! And we have the best time playing games, riding scooters outside, jumping on the tramp, dance parties in our kitchen. We had become just a normal family.

Courtesy of Ciara Hoopes

We have learned to love these kids as our own and will adopt if and when the time comes. It’s definitely been a journey. One that has taught us to think outside the box and to do things a little different. But here we are. This is our family.”

Courtesy of Ciara Hoopes

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ciara Hoopes of Utah. You can follow her journey on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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Read more amazing stories about fostering here:

‘WHAT!? Going from no kids to 2 under 2 in 1 day?! What on earth were we getting ourselves into?! My husband and I looked at each other. ‘WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?’

‘Have you ever considered foster custody of her?’ I was young. Really young. I didn’t want to be a mom. I felt the weight of his words and had to catch my breath.’

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