This isn’t going to be the most positive post; honestly I am learning a lot the past few months & I think in the early years of my fostering I was a little more idealistic. I believed we were all capable of loving and letting go, even though I suspected most people wouldn’t choose to risk their hearts in that way. And I believed that most people had good hearts despite the facts saying otherwise. So when the comments came which they always do when you foster I answered from that place of idealism. When someone would say “I could never foster because I would get too attached”, I would answer “Well it is hard because you get attached but you could.” Or when they would say “I just couldn’t take it if they left”, I would say “You would make it through because God would see you through’. And when a person would say “I couldn’t deal with the parents or family members or having people in my business”; I would say “trust me you could, it wouldn’t be easy most days but you could”.
I said all that because I believed it and also because I hated it when someone painted us as “special’ because we chose this path. I also said it because I believe with God we can do far greater things than we imagine & that part is still true. But recently the others things don’t slide from my lips quite as easily anymore because honestly I see foster parents who shouldn’t be fostering or need to take a hard look at themselves. Because they got into it for the wrong reasons or they’re too prideful to open up their lives fully to workers & parents & extended family or they’re stuck in their own way of doing things and unwilling to change. They’re trying to fit a square peg of a child into the round hole of their family & they just refuse to bend or stretch themselves. I see people who have no respect for the heritage or culture of a child; who have no respect for the family ties even when those ties aren’t completely tangled. And I see people unwilling to break, unwilling to even slightly acknowledge they might not know what the right thing for this child is.
Of course I only know this because I experienced it myself. My family aren’t saints; we felt all those things at some point. Thought we had it all figured out, but we did our best to bend and to open our lives as fully as we could. Of course that’s when some would chime in and say “that’s because you were called to this and its take someone special to do this”. Heck I wish that was true; I would love a good ego stroking, but the fact is we’re not special we just had enough go on in our own lives to not think were all that. And we saw the way God loved us & thought if He could love me like that then we can give it our best to love someone else that way too. That’s not special, but yeah I guess that is somewhat of a prerequisite to fostering, but that’s not some super human trait.
So now when someone says “I could never do that!!”, I’m likely to answer “You might be right” because I don’t think everyone is cut out to foster or adopt anymore. And when someone says “I could never let them go because I would get to attached” I will probably not say a word because if your foolish enough to think any of this has anything to do with you, well you might be right, you probably couldn’t! Because your going to have to love someone & it not be about you. Your going to have to open your hearts to people you don’t necessarily think deserve compassion and your going to have to bite your tongue when everything in you wants to scream & you will have to open your door when all you really want to do is hide away for the day. Then you will have to meet other people who will be completely different then you, but your going to have to be kind and compassionate to them because that’s just as much a part of fostering as taking care of the child. In fact if your a believer or at least believe in making this world whole & healthy in any way then you will have to eventually let the savior complex go and come to the realization that the child is only the tip of the iceberg of who your being called to love while fostering. And when your worn out, angry or have cried yourself to sleep then your going to have to wake up and do it all over again. Every day. And for no money because fostering is not a paycheck as any real foster parent will tell you. Oh and your heart will get ripped to shreds; yep because that’s a part of it too. You will bond with a child and look at him or her in their eyes and you will think to yourself “This is my child, I love them, they can’t possibly leave, nothing could possibly be better to their well being than being with us” & then you will hand that child into the arms of another person. Unless of course God sees fit to agree with you on this one child. But for the ones where that doesn’t happen you might actually have to face the fact that you were wrong. I have. They not only survived but thrived with someone else. Or maybe they didn’t; maybe they went home to a bad situation & they suffered something they shouldn’t have. Well guess what you might have to swallow that hard pill also & never be able to make sense of it.
I know what your probably thinking…..”I could never do that!!”. You might be right.
But you might be wrong too, you might can do more than you think.
If your currently fostering you might could change the way you foster, the way you love the family, the way you think about them leaving, the way you think about the ones that left. You might could let this life change you & stop fighting it so hard.
If your thinking about becoming a foster parent you might could hit the pause button & ask yourself some hard questions. Why am I really doing this? Am I willing to support the family? Am I willing to love a child & every single person that extends from that child? Am I willing to sacrifice…. my comfort, my children’s comfort, all of it? Are you willing to hurt? You are; ok now ask yourself that question again.
And if your one of the people that say “I could never do that!!” well you need to hit the pause button & start looking at yourself hard because like it or not life is already asking you to do these things. Everyday your asked to love people that could die… husbands, parents, children, friends. Everyday your living in a world with difficult people who you might not think deserves your compassion yet they do. Everyday your meeting new people who you can either shut out or let in. Everyday your faced with the decision to live for yourself or to live for something greater than yourself. And everyday you have to face down the parts of yourself that are prideful, angry, intolerant, certain, settled, comfortable, & unkind.