Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On being a foster mother

I am a foster mother. Well, I don't have any foster children right now, but I am licensed and ready to have some more kiddos in my home.

I originally became a foster mother, because I wanted to adopt and after going through all of the training to adopt from the State of Kansas I found out there really aren't any young children that become available through the state. They mostly have 10 years old or older or sibling groups. That was back in 2004, when I first started the training and I had my heart set on infants or toddlers.

Why? That is a great question. Because it really didn't have anything to do with only wanting babies, though that is what a lot of people think. It also didn't have anything to do with having children that wouldn't remember any other family, which is another thing a LOT of people think.

No, it had to do with time. You see I wanted time, as much time as I could get. I thought about adopting a 10 year old, but if you do the numbers (as any good accountant would do!) I realized I would only have 8 or 9 years with this child. And then they would go off to college, just like my son did. And I would be right back where I started...empty house.

So a friend of mine, also a foster mother, suggested I become a foster mother and then I would have the chance, if the case went that way, to adopt a child that I had been parenting. Of course now I know that she was just sharing what God had put on her heart to tell me. He was pointing the way to me.

Now, 7 years later, I have 4 beautiful daughters in my home. My oldest is 12 and I am so lucky that I have many more years to parent my children. So I am glad that I made the decision to foster.

In the last few years I have been only a foster mother to my foster children, I have not had the opportunity to adopt any of the last 9 children that have been in my home. That has been harder on me than I have been ready to admit.

One minute you are loving and taking care of a child. Think about what that entails, you plan what they are going to eat for the day, plan what their nap schedule will be, plan what clothes you will need for them for the next season...and then all of a sudden you have to plan for them to leave. I am not complaining, it is something my head is fully aware of, but my heart can never seem to accept.

I know most of the children who left our home are in very good and loving hands. Not all of them, but most of them. And we have lots of pictures and memories of them and my daughters and I keep their memory alive by talking about them and openly expressing when we miss them. It makes us all feel better to share how we feel.

Now if you had asked me if being a foster mother was very important to me, well I may have told you that it wasn't as important to ME as being an adoptive mother. In fact, I think I had myself convinced that I was getting tired of being a foster mother. And then...I was told by a supervisor at the agency that held my license that I was no longer needed.

Of course, there is a much longer version of the story, one in which I did things and said things that I thought were very important at the time, and she did things and said things that she probably thought were very important at the time. But what it came down to was that they (The agency) lost a very good and experienced foster parent, and I lost a part of my life that was a lot more important to me than I had realized.

Would I change what I did now...mostly no, I think I was doing the right thing, I think I may have gone about it in a different way. I still think the supervisor was wrong in what she was doing and the way she was doing it, and she still is, and mostly that she didn't like being called into the light because she is used to working with secrets, in the dark. She calls it "privacy".

She is used to making decisions without anyone questioning her. She isn't really very powerful in her job and probably feels even less powerful in her life. And I say again, what she was doing was very wrong...keeping siblings from each other should never be part of a policy. And we all know that really isn't their policy...the policy that changes whenever need be. But most are afraid to speak up, those that work for the agency and those that work with the agency. I have never been afraid, I will always speak up when I see something is wrong. I will never just be quiet...never.

So now I am with another agency, and they are smaller and they are nice. And they do call me every once in a while, I am patient. I really do miss being a foster mother, and this time when I wondered if I would ever get to do that again has helped me see that I do want to continue.

You see my fearlessness is what makes me such a good foster mother. I am not afraid to love a child, even if I don't know how long it will be. I am not afraid to take on unknown issues with these children, I will hug them, and kiss their little tears away. I will feed them, and when they throw their good nutritious vegetables on the floor and declare in a loud voice that they want only french fries and chicken nuggets, I will quietly clean up the floor and give them organically made chicken nuggets and sweet potato fries and even pedia sure when I can not get them to eat anything at all. I am not afraid to stay up all night rocking them and singing to them because they miss their last caregiver so much and they are too little to understand why they are here.

I will continue to be a foster mother, how can I not? I do what God calls me to do. My arms are empty, but I am patient.

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