We are Madison and Samuel Kopta. We have been fostering for about a year now, and what a wonderful, heartbreaking, joyful, and fulfilling year it has been.
We currently have four kids, two biological daughters who are one and two, and two foster kids who are nine and eleven. We were placed with our kids in the middle of the pandemic, and it felt like we went from Pop Warner to the NFL overnight. Our 1,000 sqft home shrunk the day they came, but love grows best in small homes like ours, especially under the extreme circumstances the world was facing. So, our now not-so-little family clung to each other, and a new life began.
Not unexpectedly, the transition was hard on everyone at first. Both Sam and I found ourselves grieving the loss of our old “normal”. Quiet evenings and nap times were gone, and Sam and I were now required to play Guess Who, ALL. THE. TIME. We both found ourselves at times needing to steal away to breathe (or hyperventilate if you’re me). There were many times when I asked myself, “Why am I doing this?” “I didn’t have to do this.” And I was right. I didn’t.
I did not have to insist I turn my whole world upside-down- not just my world, but my entire family’s world. I didn’t have to spend $100 on a light grey, gender neutral duvet that an eleven-year-old boy would spill spaghetti on, and stain forever on the first night. I didn’t have to pour my heart into an Easter celebration because it was the first holiday we would be spending together as a family, only to be told “I’ve had better”.
No, we do not need to do any of it. But don’t we? After all, we have been called to feel uncomfortable so a child can feel comfort. We are called to be inconvenienced so a child can feel worth. We are called to confront chaos so a child can discover calm. We are called to disrupt our sense of normal, so a child can feel settled. The best gift I have given myself, and the only advice I can give another foster parent with a new placement, is embrace the emotions. The ebb and flow, the highs and lows, yours or others.
Push past these moments they are fleeting.
On the other side we have found a new and fuller family. More laughs, discoveries, hugs, and absolute joy. While I still feel the heaviness, it is farther and fewer between. I am juggling four kids easier, homeschooling is no longer new territory. I have yelled, and the kids still accept me. I have assigned chores and at the end of the day, they still say I love you. I am gaining my confidence mothering older children faster than I thought. Every new foster parent will.
After all, a video game does not get easier as you progress toward your goal. I’ve found that life doesn’t either, and it certainly won’t for these kids, if we aren’t willing to step in for them.
What a blessing this calling is!