I hear this a lot when people find out we do foster care. “oh, I couldn’t do that, isn’t it hard?”
So I decided to share a few realities and facts about my experience of doing foster care.
So, let me start at the beginning. We didn’t start doing foster care in the hopes that our family would be ginormous and allow all kinds of people to stare at us like we are a freak of nature. We started to do foster care because we had 4 beautiful children and wanted to help other children. We thought all of the children would rightfully, go back to their birth family. Obviously, that wasn’t always the case but, we commited to these children when they came and after 9-12 mths they were part of the family and they stayed.
People tell me often, “Well at least you got your children the easy way…(meaning, I guess, no labor?)” Well, you are right. I went to bed Monday night and my family was “normal” by Tuesday night at dinner I had more children, who were/were not clothed appropriately, had to find car seats. maybe diapers, beds, clothing and a variety of other things. They were most likely sullen or outright angry in temperment. They did NOT want to be in our home at all, they wanted to be at their home. They did not wnat me to touch them, bath them or cuddle with them, they wanted their birth parent. So, if you think that was easy…okay.
Then, “what if they have to go back? I could never do that.” Well, you are right, sometimes they get to go home..Joyous day! Is it sad? absolutely but, let me tell you something, I am living with children that can’t go home and they are angry, hurt and confused. This does “fade” with time and they do start to find joy in life again but they still think of random things at random times and life becomes hard again. So, is it sad when they leave? yes, but my momentary sadness is better than their hurt for long term.
I am consistently amazed at the resiliency of children. Not only that but they can be so incredibly loving and giving of themselves once you crack through the hurt/anger and confusion. My children are so welcoming, helpful and supportive of “new” children entering our home. It is stunning to watch. The bonds with siblings forge over time. They call each other their brothers and sisters. There is no difference to them. They fight and argue like siblings and they laugh and joke with each other like friends. They try so hard to mold their lives into something new and acceptable. These children are each a miracle and joy in our life. I have learned far more from watching them and experiencing them then I could ever teach them.
Does this all mean our lives are sunshine and roses? How I wish somedays but, then again, if life were like that I wouldn’t have been able to experience the ride we are on right now. there are arguments. There is anger. There is craziness. There is jopy, There is sadness. There are tears. Basically, we are like every other family we just have a lot more emotions happening at the same time.
My favorite question of all time has to be, “are they all yours?” really? I know we don’t all match in skin color but let me assure you, just like your children are yours these children are mine. They are either mine permanently or temporarily but rest assured they are mine. Heavenly Father allowed me to have them and help them in any way I can. I bathe them, feed, them, cuddle them and love them. And, I feel like that makes them mine. I don’t ever really forget any of them. So..they are a part of me and my life. Can I offer a suggestion? Please, don’t say things like that in front of them. It belittles their connection to me and my family. I know what you mean and you are just curious but they don’t and it hurts when it is pointed out (repeatedly, cause you aren’t the only one) that they might not “belong” in some way.
So, “Isn’t it hard?” Yea, sometimes it is. My kiddos come in pairs or triples or quads. The first month I am always dying. It is so hard to get all of the appointments in and trying to get them on schedules and helping my other children adjust. Confusion, anxiety, and tears abound. My children find it hard initally to bring new children in. It is not because they don’t want them here, it is because sometimes it triggers their move here. They don’t mean to be upset, it is just a fact/way of life. Then, we all get adjusted and settled to a new routine. Do you remember what it was like when something significant happened in your life? I am speaking specifically of a new baby? Do you remember how that turns your life upside down? Well, try 3 or 4 at a time. Our last placement was a 2, 1 and 4 month old. That was hard. But, we plowed through and they are all doing so well. They are truly a part of our family. In essence, there is nothing easy about being a foster parent. There is also nothing easy about being a parent. I don’t see myself as a foster parent. I see myself as a mom trying my best to provide the emotional and physical support that my children need. And, they are ALL my children. I cry when they leave (and for a while after) and eat ice cream when they leave. I find some random item of theirs and I start crying again. Much like when my 3 oldest children moved out. I would go in their rooms and cry because it is sad. But, we are all on a journey and I am not always the best fit for them or them for me.
My children are worth all of my joy, sadness and love. I hurt with them, I cry with and for them. Just like I do for my birth children.
So, “isn’t it hard?” My standard answer, “If you do it right…Absolutely.”