Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain, members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, have been married more than 50 years and have seven children, 21 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

She says:

Bernice says: After our second child was born and I had an emergency hysterectomy, Ted and I were devastated when we realized that we could not have any more biological children.

This knowledge was difficult for us, as we both had envisioned a larger family. We had been fortunate to inherit Ted’s parents’ home when they died. This home, our home now, has five bedrooms. Our dream of filling those bedrooms with children was dashed when the hysterectomy occurred.

We would like to adopt, but immediate adoptions involve travel halfway around the world, and we are not in a financial position to do that.

We have shared online our willingness to adopt, but have heard nothing to date.

Ted and I agree that we would like our kids to be close together age-wise, so we would like to act now on adding to our family.

I am very interested in fostering children, but Ted is a bit shy about that. I think that having foster children will provide a good home to kids who need one, as well as providing the larger family that we feel called by God to provide.

Ted prefers to engage in a long-term process allowing us to keep children.

He says

Ted says: I am interested in having more children in the home, but I wonder how I would handle having to give any foster children back, once we bond with them.

I do not know if I can do something like that. I would want to keep the children forever.

Foster care certainly is needed in our dysfunctional world! I agree it is a good thing. I am open to talk to foster parents or agencies that provide foster children, but at this point, I am not sure I can commit to something like this. My parents were such great parenting role models, as were Bernice’s.

We long to provide for more children. It is just that I am uncertain that I could break the bond I would establish with any child or children we might foster. What can I do?

What do they do?

Both Bernice and Ted need to realistically prepare for what fostering children would involve. Fostering would meet the needs of a child — or better yet, it would give siblings the opportunity to remain together.

A decision to foster would also fulfill Bernice and Ted’s desire to parent more children. This appears to be a good fit, even if it is temporary for a few years until an adoption becomes available. There are times when foster children can be adopted, but that is not the primary goal of fostering.

The goal of fostering is to diligently care for children whose parents are seeking to reunite with the kids. Only when adoption would be the best interest of the child could foster care become an adoptive situation. No one can tell for sure in advance how situations will play out.

Discussion with the children they presently have about adding more siblings is important. Depending on the age of the children, the discussion could involve just sharing that daddy and mommy would be helping some other kids by providing them with love and shelter. If the children are older, it may be possible to delve deeper into the specifics of what would be involved. Having extra bedrooms is a plus, since it would enable the current room arrangements to remain as they are and promote stability.

And of course, praying about this is crucial.  Every major life change should involve prayer and guidance from God as to which road to choose.

Foster care can be informal or arranged through the courts or a social service agency.

It is important to secure a support system, understand the process and know state law when transmitting from foster care to adoption. Education on this subject is vital.

Bernice and Ted need to connect to a foster care agency with which they are comfortable. Often Christian agencies provide tremendous support to foster parents. Feeling comfortable with the fostering program and support provided is a key first step.

Getting in touch and meeting with parents who foster would enable this couple to explore answers to questions they have, especially with regard to Ted’s bonding concerns and how he would relinquish a child, when the child is reunited with his or her birth parent.

Whether through natural childbirth, adoption or foster care, welcoming a child into one’s home reminds us that Christ is present in parenthood: “And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me” (Matthew 18:5).