My posts on foster care speak to our personal experiences only. My prayer is that they will give an honest peek at what it's like for us and encourage others to prayerfully consider the journey.
People who know you notice when you're toting around an extra child. They just do. Naturally, they ask about the extra child (I would ask, too). Once we explain, the questions and comments ensue (I would question and comment, too).
The problem is that the questions and comments require lengthy explanations and discussion to be answered properly. This is no un-complicated, one-word-answer life we're living. But, alas, the inquiries come in grocery stores, between church and Sunday school in the hallway, and at get-togethers when said addition is crawling away and needs to be gathered.
So, we attempt to come up with meaningful answers in twenty words or less. And it doesn't really work that way. You see, while the inquirer/commenter has been faced with the idea of us having a foster child for all of 5 seconds, we've been seriously thinking about, praying about, training for, reading about, and, most recently living foster care for the last three years. There are layers upon layers to the responses that we live in but cannot adequately convey in a few perky sentences.
I wish folks would identify themselves at the get-go. If you're just being sweet and polite and supportive, wear a sign that says so. This way, I can give you the brief, concise answer you're looking for without being a bore. If you are fascinated and intrigued and want meat in your answer, wear a sign that says that. Then maybe we can find a quiet place to talk.
Sometimes, I can tell that the genuine person is just checking in but *I* need to do more than check-in. I need to process, to talk through my feelings and day-to-day life with a foster baby. And so I launch into it all realizing that there is a good chance they may avoid me next time they see me.
Other times, the person may want depth but I may be at a peaceful place that day when living it feels second nature and feeling normal is a blessed reprieve. My answer may be brief followed by a change in subject. I hope people don't take offense those times- I do appreciate their asking.
One of the things people are most curious about is why the darling boy in my arms was removed from his family in the first place. This is totally understandable. I would wonder, too! But we can't talk about that. We can't talk about the parents or what was/wasn't done to their child. We don't talk about these things out of respect for both the parents and the child.
What we CAN talk about is how it's going for us and our family. We can also talk about what an amazing, beautiful, and resilient (from what we can observe) child we're privileged to care for. We can talk about how he's incorporated his little self into our lives...big time.
The comment we get most often (and don't ever have the time to launch into a sufficient answer) is when people tell us that they could never do foster care because they would become too attached. That's ironic because...
We are too attached.
In our brief experience, it is absolutely impossible NOT to become attached. Here is this sweet little person- completely blameless and innocent. Before long, it registers for them that you are their people right now. They can depend on you to care for them, feed them, put them to bed when they're tired and cuddle them when they're hurt or lonely. In turn, they become your people. It is impossible to imagine trying to hold back the fondness we feel. How would one do that? By hugging them...but only briefly and not quite as tightly? By smiling at them...but not for too long or with as broad a grin (and don't you dare let your eyes twinkle)? By only picking them up certain times when they crawl over, climb up your leg and reach their tender little arms up to the sky to be picked up?
It doesn't work that way.
And, it shouldn't. If (Lord, have mercy) one of my children ever ended up in foster care, would I want the foster parents to show them less love than their birth children so they wouldn't get attached? No! Does that blameless, innocent child deserve any less than our whole hearts? No!
We do this for him, not for us.
So, yes. When he leaves, we will miss him terribly. Our hearts will likely break a little bit (or a lot) and it might take us awhile to recover. But that's okay. We are healthy enough to come back from that. These children deserve the fullest extent of the love we can give. They will be affected if they don't receive it.
We're not extra special people for doing this (another frequent comment). We're just willing to take a little heartbreak. We're willing to travel a bit backwards in our parenting journey. We're willing to give up a little independence.
It's not always easy. We don't always do it well.
I write all this not because I want people to stop talking to us. On the contrary! We LOVE that our friends and family are interested and supportive. And we need to talk (and write) about it- it's a bit of therapy for us. I just wanted to convey that there is a lot more to our answers and responses. Our decision to do foster care was not made lightly. We've thought about many of (if not all) the angles. If we blubber around with our responses it's just because we're trying to be concise but thoughtful. If you want to hear more, ask for more. If not, that's totally okay, too. Just please accept my apology if my answer goes a little long.
One more thing. We know that many of you are praying for us. We feel those prayers and thank you and God for walking with us on this journey.
"The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."
James 5:16bPin It