Today we are so excited to introduce Dani, a beautiful mama that we have had the pleasure of working with during our Spring/Summer 2020 season! We met Dani through Instagram, where she allows us and her followers a peek into the life of a foster mom. She shows us how being a foster parent comes with its challenges, but is not without its rewards and joy. Like so many parents, Dani has sleepless nights, teething, and has to juggle her work. As a photographer, finding work and home life balance is important to her, and it's inspiring to see how she meets each new thing being a parent brings and learns from it in order to grow.
Why did you decide to become a foster mom?
I knew I was going to be a foster parent from the time I was in high school. I was adopted as an infant & I grew up very familiar with adoption & that world. Then after doing some research on the foster care system one year in school, I just had a moment where I knew this is what I would do! A few years ago I just happened to meet a few single foster moms at a church I had just started going to & that really solidified that I was going to foster & I didn’t need to be married in order to do so!
What challenges have you faced becoming/being a foster mom?
Gosh, there are honestly so many challenges. Being a parent is HARD! And everyone talks about that, but you can’t really mentally prepare for it. A lot of my struggles this far have been maintaining work/life balance (what even is that?!) as well as just the mental load of doing everything myself. A few months ago, “Blaze” came to live with us, he was three weeks old, and my oldest had just turned one. They’re actually 360 days apart in age! Parenting two while trying to work from home has been so challenging. They’re both in very clingy phases so trying to split my time & attention fairly means I constantly feel like I’m being pulled in a thousand directions. Then, just tack on the actual dealing with the foster care system, family visits, court dates, the overwhelming feeling of not having control of anything. It’s really not easy, but it is so worth it.
What is a victory you're proud of as a foster parent?
I honestly cried so many tears when “Sunny” turned one. I raised a whole human being for a full year by myself. I know people do that all the time, but it felt super monumental. Again, raising babies really isn’t easy. She taught me how to be a mom & so celebrating her birthday was of course, so much fun to celebrate her sweet life & shower her with love, but it felt like a win for me. I had made it through all of the sleepless nights where I literally just held her as we both cried (reflux babies, right?!). I saw all of her firsts & that’s something I’ll never take for granted.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of becoming a foster parent?
If you’re thinking about becoming a foster parent, I highly recommend becoming friends with other foster parents. Before I even went through training classes I was hanging out with foster families helping with bath time & keeping some kids busy while mom was bathing. It helped cultivate that community that you truly will need in foster care, but it also just helped me put faces to these stories. Like the kids in care are not just statistics or sob stories. They’re kids with faces & names & you should get to know them. Another thing I would recommend is to start educating yourself now on trauma & what parenting a child with trauma can look like. There are tons of resources & books, but I can’t recommend it enough. Because, yes, even infants can have trauma.
How did you find out about babywearing?
So I’m one of those weirdos that started following baby brands on Instagram well before I was a parent. I was always looking at YouTube reviews of strollers & car seats & looking at bottle feeing options & of course stumbled upon baby wearing on my YouTube & Instagram deep dives. I was also a nanny for 5 years before going full time with photography, so I had experience baby wearing the babies I nannied!
When is babywearing most useful for you?
Baby wearing is super helpful for me at dinner time! Typically the babies have staggered wake times & Blaze naps during Sunny’s lunch time, but dinner time they’re both awake & both needing something, so I often babywear one of them while preparing dinner!
What is your favorite thing about babywearing?
My favorite thing is the closeness. When Sunny came to me at 10 days old, I picked her up from the hospital only an hour after knowing about her. I didn’t have 9 months of knowing her & bonding with her while she was in my belly. So to me, baby wearing is almost making up for that time by allowing me to keep them close & content (while also getting things done!). Also I just love how quick & practical it is. Life does not slow down, especially as a single parent with two babies. We are go go go all the time! So it only takes a few seconds to pop a baby into the sling & be on the way.