Nicole and Ian Carefoot had talked about the possibility of wanting to adopt before they even got married. What they didn’t know was that the road to get there would be through foster care.
“Fostering just always seemed too hard to have to think about possibly giving them back,” said Nicole.
Fast forward a few years after the Carefoots had gotten married and were trying to start a family, they felt compelled to look into foster care.
“We were having trouble getting pregnant and felt like we had so much love to give,” said Nicole. “We felt like God was placing it on our hearts that maybe fostering was for us. People we knew were fostering and we thought maybe it was something we should look into. We talked to our friends about it and felt really led to do it.”
The couple found a Christian-based agency they liked and began the lengthy process to obtain their foster license.
Between the extensive interviews, background checks, home inspections, attending both in-person and online classes, applying for fingerprint clearance cards, and more, Nicole said it felt like a long waiting game.
In the meantime, they were also pursuing the path to start fertility treatments, still eager to grow their family in some way.
“We got a call when we were in the fertility office asking if we were willing to have our license expedited,” Nicole recalled. “They had babies who were just waiting to be placed.”
Shortly after, in January of 2020, the Carefoots took in 4-day-old Clayton, who was drug exposed and in need of a foster family.
“The second day we had him, I remember crying and telling my husband how hard it was going to be because I loved him so much already,” said Nicole. “I knew right away if he became available for adoption, we wanted him.”
While their journey with Clayton got off to a rocky start, landing them in the hospital with him just a week after his placement due to his failure to thrive, Nicole said nothing was going to stop them from doing everything they could to keep him safe and loved.
“In the hospital they asked us if we wanted to find him a different family since he was going to require a feeding tube and we weren’t medically trained to handle it,” said Nicole. “But we said no. We were willing to do and learn whatever we needed to take care of him.”
Knowing that the main goal of fostering is reunification, Nicole said it was nerve-wracking to think that Clay could potentially be taken away from them.
“It was a challenging road,” said Nicole. “You care for this child 24/7 and you don’t have any control on what happens to them. It’s all up to a judge. We just had to have faith that God would work it all out.”
Eventually, when Clay turned a year old, his parental rights were severed and Nicole and Ian were given the chance to legally adopt him. Around the same time, the couple had also been completing a round of IVF and found out that Nicole was pregnant.
The Carefoots found themselves navigating a pregnancy and adoption at the same time. After over six months of paperwork and working with a lawyer, on July 2, 2021, they officially adopted Clay.
“It felt like we could finally breathe,” said Nicole. “There was nobody coming for him. We ended up closing our license after that.”
Then, just a little over a month later on August 28, Nicole gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Marleigh.
Now, Nicole said 3-year-old Clayton and 1-and-a-half-year-old Marliegh are the best of friends.
While the journey to growing their family wasn’t easy, the Carefoots can look back and see the how far they’ve come.
“Clay was a wrinkly baby failing to thrive and to see where he is now, how much he’s grown, and how loving he is, it’s the most rewarding part.”
The Carefoot’s 5 Pieces of Advice About Fostering
- Remember about reunification. “Have it in the forefront of your mind that the first goal of fostering is to reunite the child back with their biological family.”
- Go into it with the best of intentions for the child. “The whole purpose of fostering is to love on a child that needs safety and comfort for however long it’s supposed to be.”
- Do your research on an agency. “There are lots of agencies to choose from—some are based on faith and some agencies aren’t. Talk to people in your area. You want an agency that’s going to have your back and a team that’s going to help and fight with you for that.”
- Be patient. “Know that the whole process takes a long time.”
- Find a group of people to support you. “Having friends who have been through it is really important. It’s easier to go through when you have a support system. If you don’t know anyone who’s been through it, you can meet people in your classes.”