I haven’t written much about our foster journey lately. Partly because there isn’t much new to report with S’s case, and partly because we just want to forget that S isn’t our biological child and move on with our lives as a family of five. However, we all know that this is not how the real world works. After a fantastic vacation to Disney where not one person asked us if S was our biological child (bliss!) we were right back to reality with doctor appointments and case worker visits.
Even though we are working towards adoption with S, my heart is still with the foster system, and while I am relishing the time with my three sweet children right now, my heart is getting that familiar tug when I think about a babe waiting in the NICU for a home. I’m ready for that next call, short term or long term, straight foster or possibly adoption.
When you sign up to be a foster parent it seems to be all roses. The premise is simple––a child needs a home and you, the foster parent can provide one. Food, shelter, clothing, love––it all falls into place and in the magic of the beginning it’s bliss.
And then the real work begins and you feel like you are a failure as a parent. You are constantly dodging land mines, setting up doctor visits and trying to reach the heart of these sweet children whose innocence was stolen far too soon. You battle insurance, fight for the best treatment options and learn very quickly to take excellent notes. Parent/Teacher conferences abound and labels are tossed about far too freely. Bio parents, sibling visits, grandparent visits and case worker visits take over your schedule. You are thrust into the red tape of the judicial system and learn more than you wanted to about the background of the child in your care.
And yet, day after day you get up with a smile for that child. You dispense love and try your best to help them navigate a world that they shouldn’t have to understand, let alone be a part of. You struggle to connect with them, to reach a common ground between discipline and rules. You learn quickly that what works for one child doesn’t work with another, and that a simple gesture can destroy weeks of tedious trust building.
Foster care is not easy––but it IS worth it. Every child needs to know that THEY MATTER. They need to know that they have a support system, and believe me, even if you think they hate you––deep inside that child knows you will fight for them. They need stability. They need rules and discipline and grounding. They need love and trust and laughter. It’s far too easy for a child in the foster care system to slip through the cracks and be lost forever.
I know that we can’t save every single child––but I know that we can save one child at a time, and that by making a difference in that one child we are breaking the cycle of poverty, of abuse, of addiction, of foster care. If you aren’t ready to be a foster parent, perhaps you can bless a foster parent in a small way to support them as they care for these innocent children.
As hard and as crazy as our lives have been during the past 5 years I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, and yes, I am ready when the next call comes.
Aurie and her husband, Ken, are the parents of five children, three who were adopted from foster care. She offers honest, reality based perspective and information about fostering, homeschooling and being who you were created by God to be on her website, Our Good Life. A self-proclaimed organizational “nut,” she has found being organized is an important sanity saver when working with the foster care system and all its requirements. She and her family live in New Jersey.