In my last post, I shared a pretty traumatic experience my husband, Scott, and I went through. It was a foster parent’s worst nightmare. Being led to believe that we were adopting a foster child, after her first fifteen months with us. Rearing her from the beginning of her life as well as throughout, and beyond the critical bonding months. And, dealing with an excrutiating transition (especially for the child) in sending her home, after her first two years, with us.
I can’t sugarcoat it. Had I known that we would have gone through this, I would have said no way to foster care. So, when people say that I am a selfless angel, I want to stop them and say, “Not really”. I never knew it was this hard.
But, there are happy foster stories. Yes. Even the ones in which the child is reunified! While it’s too soon to predict a reunification as fully successful, I am happy to report that our eight month old (we nicknamed, Berry), is being reunified, with her biological parent, any day now.
Scott and I have been foster parents for a little over two years. Not long, I know. We’ve had three babies and one pre-teenager. I nickname every baby and child on social media to maintain their privacy. Banana left after two years. Honeybear left after two months. Now, Berry is leaving after eight months. Every situation is different and highly unpredictable.
I feel that Berry has a pretty good foster story. And, maybe I’m more cut out for this than I care to admit or volunteer for. Going into it, this time, both bio parents seemed very focused on their child. They knew time was of essence, and the Division has worked tirelessly to support both parents. I am genuinely happy that this baby is being reunified. Of course, I’ll miss her. I love her just as much as I loved Banana, at this age. But, here is the difference: it only takes one Bio parent to work cooperatively for the best interest of their child.
No surprise here. You’ve heard by now that the whole “best interest of the child” speech is just crap. A judge can flat out tell the biological parents that their child would be better off left where she has been thriving and fully bonded, BUT, he will also remind the biological parents that they have rights. (Come to find out, you don’t even need to be a legal citizen to have more rights than the naturally born child.) And, the bio family’s rights supersede the child’s. That’s a fact. So, it really comes down to what kind of people are the bio parents? Do they care about the child as much as themselves?
I don’t agree with the system. So much money (tax money) is dedicated to services for the biological parents, and sometimes offered months or years after their bio-child has bonded with their caretakers. Meanwhile, there are few services offered to the child. Banana wasn’t given any helpful services during that awful transition. We saw her suffer for months, and quite frankly, nobody else was willing to accommodate her needs.
We have a foster baby boy, right now. I’ve nicknamed him, Blue. He’s been with us since five days old, and he’s now almost three months. The father is deceased. They’re telling us that they want to fast track this to adoption because the biological mother has shown no interest in accepting services. (See? It’s her choice.) Meanwhile, the division will jump hurdles and offer the world (practically) to get this baby back with his blood-born parent. As much as we’d love to take a sigh of relief and put our hearts and hopes into loving this child forever, we know that realistically, this bio parent can take as long as she wants to decide to accept services. Even after he is bonded and thriving with us.
Every day is a question mark when you’re a foster parent. Rachel Maria
So, why did I become a foster parent? For those of you thinking about it, should you become a foster parent? Here’s the short answer. If you love children, and you don’t necessarily need to have a “blood connection” to love them, you really have what it takes to be a foster parent. I realized at an early age that I have this extraordinary love for children. I believe that is why I am a foster parent, today.
But, nothing, and I mean nothing, can prepare you for the heartache in losing a foster child whom you’ve had long enough to form a strong bond. It feels like a death. In some ways worse for the grief process, because that child is alive, yet feels dead. Second to this heartache is watching a foster child suffer. I never thought it’d happen to me, because I am such an empathetic, altruistic person. I believed the good Lord above, would have spared me the worst pain in watching Banana suffer. He did not. He allowed this for a reason.
I wish people would stop saying, “I could never be a foster parent. I couldn’t let go of the child I loved.” Do you really think foster parents want to let go of the child they loved?
And, what if God allowed our hearts to break for good reason? The bible speaks volumes about “suffering” and that it is actually a good thing.
Romans 5:3-5 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
I think the ideal foster parent is completely willing to get their heart broken. Because it’s inevitable. Just like one trains for battle and is pushed beyond his limit, God allows us to suffer so that we can become stronger. Complete. Lacking in nothing.
I honestly don’t know how much longer we will be foster parents. Selfishly, I question why God is not allowing any of these children to stay with us forever. But, deep in my heart, I know that just as Jonah refused to follow the will of God (he ultimately did what he had been asked, only after going through major suffering), God’s will supersedes my will.
Being a foster parent was God’s plan for Scott and me. If you feel it may be His plan for you, surrender your heart. YES. It will break. But, not only are you giving children the love and attention they deserve, you are allowing God to completely transform you. Strengthen you. Establish you.
And, trust me. There are a bunch of blessings along the way!