Two years ago (before my blog existed) I wrote a piece on Facebook called When I Became a Foster Parent. It was some thoughts and feelings I was dealing with at the time. We have been blessed to adopt two children since then (and have another scheduled for the end of September!!!), but I’ll never forget those feelings. And I just might feel them again when (if God wills) we enter the merry-go-round of another foster case sometime. So here is a re-run of that, adapted and added to, continuing a “Confessions” theme…
When I became a foster parent, I didn’t know…
…that it would be one of the biggest time commitments I’ve ever made in my life,
…that falling in love with a child would not happen at first glance,
…that after years of wanting to be a mom, there would be moments when I’d wish for “everything like it used to be”,
…that losing the child you love would be a cloud hanging over you at all times,
…that I would look at bio moms around me and be so jealous because no one has “presented as a resource” for their baby,
…that others would look at me and say, “You’re so amazing! I just couldn’t do it because I could never give a child back after I’ve bonded.” And on the outside I smile and say, “Thanks,” while inside I scream, “I’m not amazing! I can’t give back a child either! But we need more people committed to loving hurting children regardless of the hurt it might cause us because that’s what Jesus has asked us to do!” But I hold it in because they wouldn’t understand,
…that I can’t think “I’m finally through THAT stage” because I might have to start all over again with a different baby and hand all the progress over to someone else,
…that it would be so hard and awkward to relate to birth parents,
…that I would secretly be so overjoyed when “my” child wants me and not their birth mom,
…that I would feel guilty because of the above statement,
…that I would also feel guilty because I have their precious baby and they don’t (although it’s not my fault at all),
…that waiting for months (sometimes years) would be SO.HARD,
…that court days would always loom large on the horizon of your mind.
So, why am I still a foster mom?
Because when I became a foster parent, I also didn’t know…
…that coaxing a smile from a baby to whom I am a stranger would be so rewarding,
…that the moment I realize I have finally fallen in love would bring tears to my eyes,
…that it would make me so happy to know that there is a definite bond growing,
…that it would feel so good to hear my little girl say, “Mom”,
…that it would melt my heart to see their little faces light up when I walk in after one of their visits with bio parents,
…that even partial trust and friendship from a bio mom would be such a blessing,
…that we would feel so blessed to be just where God wants us touching the children’s lives He wants us to be touching,
…that every moment, smile, touch, giggle, hug, kiss, and milestone would feel so fragile and precious,
…that we would suddenly realize we’re not the ones changing lives as much as we are being changed by these special little people,
…that making the most of every teachable moment about God, their value and worth, and how much Jesus loves them would feel so urgent,
…that I would learn to pray so desperately for God’s best for a child because that’s the only prayer that makes sense,
…that it would be so good for me to have my eyes vividly opened to the needs of hurting, lonely, empty lives so close to where I live my sheltered life,
…that little brown arms around my neck and sparkling black eyes or big blue ones would make me feel so blessed to be their mom at least for now.
And a few additional thoughts we foster parents would like you to know…
“The idea of sainthood [of us foster parents] makes it impossible for ordinary people to do this – and the truth is the world needs more ordinary, human foster parents. This also stinks because if we’re saints and angels, we can’t ever be jerks or human or need help, and that’s bad, because sometimes this is hard.” Sharon Astyk
Don’t ask questions and make comments (especially in front of the children) that you wouldn’t ask about biological children! From “I don’t understand why something can’t be done to stop these women from having children!” to “Are they your real children?” Not only does this hurt a child to hear these things, but I’ve come to really care about these children’s bio families. These women birthed the babies I love and care for. They are people just like you, without the training and tools and Jesus to make responsible choices! The answers I bite back nearly choke me sometimes! 🙂 And my responses to the comment and question above are (at least in my head)…”Are you implying that this child I love shouldn’t have been born?” and “Do they look fake to you?” (And yes, I’ve heard both of these more than once!)
While these children are with us, we love them entirely. They are our real children and my children’s real siblings. Blood doesn’t make a family! The same eye color, hair color, skin color doesn’t make us bond better. I see Jesus in my children’s eyes…that’s why I love them! Some of them may stay forever. Some of them may go and come back. Some of them may leave and we’ll never see them again. At Penn Valley we were challenged to remember that when a child leaves, they take a piece of us with them. And it hurts and we grieve. But with all the missing pieces in their lives, they need that piece far more than we do knowing the Healer of hurting hearts!
So have I convinced anyone to join me on the journey? It’s an incredible one! There could be children waiting for you! 🙂
Some of my thoughts here at the end were culled from a blog post I read a few months back. She came across a little stronger than I thought necessary with some of the things and I didn’t feel the need to use it in its entirety. She did have some good stuff if you wish to check it out…http://scienceblogs.com/casaubonsbook/2013/03/12/what-foster-parents-wish-other-people-knew/.