This idea of becoming foster parents began to take root in our hearts. We did all the necessary things. We took our classes, prepared or home study, prepared our home, did our best to prepare our kids. Then our life got totally re-routed.
I am an eternal student. As I prepared for every possible scenario I began to read every book I could find on foster parenting and adoption. That is when I found the book “Hope Meadows-Real Life Stories of Healing and Caring From an Inspiring Community” by Wes Smith. What I read was truly inspiring.
Nestled in rural Illinois in what was now an abandoned Air Force base a little intentional neighborhood was living out “community” something like Mayberry. What had been married housing for the base had been renovated into six-seven bedroom homes for adoptive families with some of the hardest to place children from foster care. Living alongside this vulnerable population were an equally vulnerable group- senior citizens wanting to age with purpose and in community instead of ending up in nursing care. Research had discovered that many adoptive families were unable to handle the deeply rooted traumas and behaviors of their children. Without proper supports many adoptions failed and children continued to cycle through the System until adulthood never finding permanency. In this neighborhood struggling families could find support from other parents with similar struggles and from the seniors who acted in the role of foster grandparents to the children.
The concept was a beautiful one and we were inspired. In our little home we were limited to working within the confines of the the foster care system and probably only one child. Our vision began to expand to growing a large family through adoption and with the supports of our Hope Meadows family. Within six months of interviewing we made our home here.
We have lived at Hope for nearly a decade now. Many things have evolved over the years. It is a very unique experience, but it is not a utopia. It has not been an innoculation to prevent hardships in adoption and trauma parenting. It is a special piece of planet where we know ALL of our neighbors personally, around eighty of them! Our children have “grandparents” that care deeply about them and show them every day. They receive birthday cards, they are taken on special outings or have a cheering section at all of they’re events. They have an after school program and retired teachers to tutor them, and people looking out for them while they play in the neighborhood. They walk out the door and they have kids just like them to play with. Adoption is normal. Multiracial families are normal. Mental health and trauma behaviors are normal. I have people on standby I can call in a crisis. My children are learning how to be good citizens. They do chores for our seniors, they shovel snow or pull garbage cans back up the drive. We go to potlucks and block parties. The quilts on they’re beds were handmade with love from they’re grandmas. When an adoption occurs the entire Hope community celebrates by packing out the courtroom and throwing a huge party afterwards. It truly is a special place to raise our family.