Here we are with a kiddo!
I am suffering from major foster parent guilt because he is a tiny, snuggly, sweet baby who sleeps 13 hours a night (in a row) and hardly ever cries. And he smiles at everyone, all the time. He is so great. And because I am a privileged white girl from the suburbs, instead of just enjoying it, I feel like an impostor foster parent who is cheating somehow.
Jk, honestly I am totally just enjoying it. We are having a blast.
When we were going through classes and learning all about this process, I remember thinking a lot about the complication of a relationship with a foster kid. How, if you know you’re not keeping them forever, or if you’re not sure, how do you love the kid but be careful to not get “attached”? How do you love a kid in a way that keeps them prepared for if they have to go back to another family?
Now, this question is obviously very different with a tiny baby than it would be if, say, we had a 6-yr-old kid who visits their bio parents every week. Then, of course, a foster parent’s job is to be as encouraging as possible in that relationship, so that they are set up for the most success and reconciliation when they are returned home.
I would muse about this phenomenon, how to provide a kid with enough love but make sure that both you and they are prepared in case you are separated from each other, I would talk about this with some people, and they would be like “hmm, yeah. That is tough.”
Then I can kind of remember bringing it up with foster parent friends or at our classes, and I don’t think I quite understood it at the time, but I’m pretty sure I got some confused blank stares.
Well, about Day 2 of having this little dude (we are now on whopping Day 19 and therefore Experts) I realized how utterly absurd that idea is and threw it out the window entirely.
My job, as I understand it now, is to love these kiddos as much as possible, as often as possible, for as long as possible. I don’t know what I was thinking. How could it be best for a kiddo to do anything else?
I thought “It would probably be so much more damaging to a kid if they have really gotten attached to foster parents, if they then have to go home.”
What, more damaging than spending whatever amount of time, the time that could be the most safe and loving and nurturing environment they ever experience, being held at arm’s length?? No sir.
And people ask, very often, about how you can “guard your heart” in that kind of situation. I understand and appreciate that sentiment, coming from people who might be protective of Dane and me. But I’m sorry, I missed the part of our call to love our neighbors where it said “But be careful you don’t love them too much, because it could be hard.”
These are bold words coming from a girl with less than 3 weeks experience who has not yet sent a placement back. I tell people things a lot of the time in order to hold me accountable. Because I can see how future experiences will make me want to change this philosophy, but I cannot see how any future circumstances will make that the right thing to do.
People ask if it’s hard to face the prospect of having kiddos and sending them home. A lot of people say that. People even say they have thought about fostering but just couldn’t handle “giving them up.”
I told this to a friend recently, and I hope it wasn’t too harsh, I didn’t mean it that way. But for me, it’s hard to consider having this kiddo, or any other kiddo, for a period of time and welcoming them into my life and my family, and then sending them away, possibly back to a situation that seems pretty scary to me. But it’s much, much harder for me to know how many of these kids there are out there, how few families welcoming them in, and to not do anything.
Even Shakespeare said it: “Tis better to have loved and lost,” etc.
It’s the difference between a number and a soul. Stalin said once that the death of one man is a tragedy, but the death of a million men is a statistic. A hundred thousand blah blah babies and kids in foster care, who will go into group homes with who knows how many other kids if there aren’t enough foster homes, that’s a ‘shame.’ But it doesn’t cause us personal pain.
So… Which of those things is harder to live with? The personal loss, or the knowledge? You tell me.