WHAT IS A FAMILY? How is a family defined? This is something that if someone were to ask any of our four kids they are likely to answer, “Those who love you, keep you safe, and feed you.” It was very important to Jessica and me that our kids were prepared to deal with, and refute, any criticism that came their way as a result of having two moms. We have made it a point to buy books, watch movies, and participate in activities that teach our kids that families come in many different varieties. While all of those things helped to solidify the values we wanted to instill, it wasn’t until we started fostering and volunteering with rescue that we were able to put what we had learned to practice.
We fostered our first dog through PetPromise in December of 2012. At the time we had two dogs of our own and two young kids ages three and six. We decided that we had the perfect household for fostering “bully breed” type dogs since we could get them used to being around small children and other dogs, both of which are some of the first questions asked by potential adopters. I remember bringing home our first foster dog and our youngest child asking “Are we keeping this new dog?” We took the opportunity to explain that we were only caring for the dog until she got better, and that we were fostering her because whoever had her before wasn’t able to care for her the way she needed. Over the next year and a half we saw around 35 dogs come and leave our house, some stayed for a couple days and some for a couple months. Every dog that came in our kids would ask the same questions, “Is this our dog or are we just fostering because they need our help finding a new family?”
We never really knew the extent of what fostering and rescuing had taught our kids until last September when we were approached by a caseworker about two kids who needed a place, outside of foster care, to call home. Jessica and I talked in great detail about what this meant for us, our family, and our kids. Once we decided together that taking the kids in was something that we wanted to do, we sat our children down to get their input. Their only concern was, “Are the kids ours or are we just fostering because we need to take care of them until they find a new family?” On my way to pick up the kids, I had our five year old son with me and he said, “Is this like when we get a foster dog, but decide to keep it?” and I said, ’Yes, it is very much like that.” He then said, “We are going to take care of them and we will all be a family, right?”
I suppose that in the end it is the dogs that have taught us all what it means to love unconditionally. We are hoping to raise kids who are responsible, compassionate, and all-around good people, and I hope that by allowing our kids to take part in helping an animal get well and move on to its forever family that we are doing just that. If you have ever found yourself wondering about fostering or adopting a rescue dog, cat, or animal just take the plunge. You will not be disappointed and maybe learn a little about yourself along the way.