My husband Imran and I became licensed domestic foster parents in 2011, after our Imam made us aware of the growing number of Muslim children entering the foster care system, without Muslim families to place them in.
In Feb 2012, I received a phone call from our foster care agency’s office about a 5 yr old Muslim boy that had entered the foster care system needing a Muslim home. 2hrs after accepting the placement, our first foster son came into our home with only the clothes on his back, a small back pack with some toys the agency gave him, an extra pair of pants, and a small blanket.
Even though we have 3 boys of our own, we learned very quickly that foster parenting was not going to be like parenting our own children.
The adjustment for my own boys, who were 13, 13 and 9 respectively at that time, was a lot more challenging than I had imagined. It was difficult for them to understand how a child could be taken away from their own parents and placed with a family they had never known. They witnessed my foster son's highs and lows and came to appreciate the blessing of our own family.
In addition to our extended families, our community became an important source of much needed support. They helped us with pick up/drop off from school, tutoring, play dates, and babysitting. By God's Grace, we saw our foster son go from being a grade behind his peers in reading readiness, to reaching the top third in his class in a span of a year. He went from a scared, withdrawn, anxious child, to a more confident, enthusiastic, inspiring boy that impressed everyone that he met. And most importantly, our foster son went from not knowing much about and hiding his Islamic faith, to enjoying learning about and practicing his dheen.
Had I not witnessed the transformation myself, I might not of believed it from someone else.
After staying with us for over 2 1/2 years, our foster son was permanently adopted by some close friends of ours, and today we still get to see him regularly.
We then went on to foster a set of twin teenage boys for a period of time, and found that experience so different from our first one. During that time, I met Ranya through a mutual friend, and learned how important it was to be able to talk to another foster parent who understood what I was going through. After the twin foster boys, our family decided to take a break to help our own boys navigate through their senior year of high school and apply to colleges. We have maintained our domestic foster care licensing to make for respite care so that other foster families can take short breaks to take care of personal emergencies, or just take a short break to rejuvenate.
Through this experience my family and I have come to appreciate even more the blessings and privileges God has granted us, as well as realize the greater responsibility our privilege puts on us to care for those less fortunate.