I am terrible at math. Seriously, it's not something I am just saying......it's the truth. My major in college was largely decided on how many math classes were involved and it's how I quickly weeded out Psychology. Statistics of Psychology will forever reside as the class that handed me my only C ever on a report card my whole educational career. K-College. That C will forever stay with me. Ugh. Still annoys me.
Anyway, so May is Foster Care Awareness Month and I love how there is information being passed around to help inform people about foster care. A lot of the information shared are the statistics as well. While, I think it is very important to know the statistics and see what these kids are facing, I am not going to lay those out there. Mostly because statistics don't speak to me. They speak to my husband and that's why we are a great team. What speaks to me is the emotional side of fostering and that's what I am going to share.
When we first decided to foster there was no big party from friends or family rejoicing our decision. Nor did we expect one. Instead, we got a lot of questions and some hesitation. Don't let that change nor affect your decision! This is your decision and people just need time to warm up to the idea. There is also a time and a place to share your decision. I am a firm believer that you shouldn't share what you are thinking with everyone right at first. J. O. and I made the decision to move forward in October and didn't share with anyone until end of January when we were about to attend PRIDE training. Not out of fear or embarrassment but simply because we weren't strong enough to handle the objections yet (and they will come...trust me). We needed to be at a place where we knew, without a doubt, we were doing what God had called our family to do and people could either support it or not. Lucky for us our support system was huge.
Once you begin fostering, be prepared for nothing to go as planned. I am a planner and this one is harder for me, but you have to be okay with being a part of a team. Even if you don't care for some of the team members, you have to be open to working with them. The hardest thing for me to remember sometimes is that I am the "middle mom". Just because I don't like that visits are during nap time, or that they are on Tuesday (don't they know we have gymnastics and it's a late day??), or that they come home with food I would never feed them.....I am mom for the time being. My goal is to work together with people that I might not agree with or even like (gasp!) Don't get me wrong, I am a voice for the child, but you have to go into this knowing your role and have semi realistic expectations.
Another thing that will take some getting used to is that you may actually find yourself defending these bio moms and dads to all the people out there who will immediately start bashing them. Your heart will break for these parents and the situations that each and every one of them will have been in. You will find yourself hanging around outside of DHS after a staffing to talk to the mom and hand her pictures of her kids. You will find yourself whipping out your phone in the courtroom elevator to show her the latest pic of her baby and your heart will break when someone shows you a text from her asking if that lady (me) will adopt her kids. They have no hope and no way out. You may also find yourself entangled and in a relationship with some members of the family as well. We have a very entwined life right now with a family member of the girls. Do I like it all of the time? No! Why?? Because she is soooo different than me and that makes me uncomfortable. However, I firmly believe we are in her life for a very specific reason.
There is a huge need for foster parents. The numbers will tell you that and it's just a fact. However, it's way more than numbers. It's the faces and stories that come along with the numbers. It's the way our children have a different view of the world now. Is it always easy?? NO! Will your kids automatically adjust and be so glad they have a toddler sharing their toys?? NO! Just ask Addison. But just last week she asked me if I thought the baby would be here on her 2nd birthday because she wanted to see what she was like at age 2. I told her I had no idea and Addison immediately responded....well, I'm going to pray she will be and if you pray about it, God will answer it. Now, Addison might not get the answer she wants, but she is learning through these kids, that you pray and God will hear that prayer regardless.