Friday, July 15, 2011

Pride in New York

Foster Care has challenged me in every single way I could have ever imagined. It has tested my faith, marriage, sanity, and friendships. Foster Care has even tested the durability of our dining room set (which Brandon has added extra support to since we've had kids). Foster Care drains all of my time and talent and constantly requires me to be better than what I was sure is my best. It also calls me out on my flaws- like my resistance to change. Foster Care has most definitely put a spotlight on a bit of a pride problem I have. I don't think prideful is a word that people would use to describe me, and I'm only recently becoming aware of it myself. Let me tell you- its not attractive.

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 ESV

My first collision of foster care and selfish pride was with Baby 1 at our first WIC appt. WIC is a federal food program that gives vouchers for food and formula. To collect these vouchers, you need to go to an office and wait with other women while county workers shuffle papers and make assumptions. See, only the person who actually prints your vouchers knows your situation. They are the only one who looks up your child's info on the computer screen and sees that your income or marital status has no bearing on the child's eligibility. While I consider myself a very loving and understanding person who chats with the Mom next to me without judgement of her collecting WIC, I am very uncomfortable with people assuming that I have children that I can not provide for and must rely on assistance. It's ridiculous, really, because I know that people with average incomes can qualify for WIC and there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of a program that you legitimately qualify for. I just get all embarrassed and try to fight the urge to tell everyone I meet at a WIC appt that I am a foster parent. Pride and ego rule my thoughts when that is God's territory. While I understand and fight to surrender that to Him, the thought of that first appt creeps into my mind: I'm getting all the documentation needed and handing it in. The lady checking me in says, Who is the proxy on the checks? I said, "Umm..Just me I guess" Rude WIC lady says, "So there's no Dad?" Of course there's a Dad! Of course I'm married! AND he has a job! We don't need your pity vouchers with a side of judgemental glances! We are foster parents! We help abused and neglected kids!

"Better to be ordinary and work for a living than act important and starve in the process."
Proverbs 12:9

If I thought getting the checks was humbling enough, I can't even begin to tell you how my pride rears it's ugly head at the grocery store when using them. No one there knows the difference between foster parents and other WIC clients. I especially get embarrassed when I have my WIC purchases of baby food, rice cereal, and formula sitting on the counter in front of salmon, steak, pre-made sushi, or soda. I know I'm fulfilling someone's preconceived prejudice of people using the system or making poor choices. It's at those times that I wish I was wearing a "I love being a Foster Mom" Tshirt.

"He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate"  Luke 1:52

 A little back story: Baby 4 has medical needs that qualify him for an overnight nurse. We were unable to locate a nurse for him in our area, so I pushed to have the Dr sign off on him being discharged from the hospital with just me doing his overnight care. This has worked well, and I have been able to properly care for him. Back to the post:

My most recent battle with pride happened at Baby 4's preschool evaluation. In the past 2 months I have taken 4 to emergency twice, and I was using that to explain to the school's social worker that while 4 requires very little care, he also requires close supervision because his condition can become severe very quickly for a variety of reasons. The social worker, who I imagine was trying to save the school district some money, suggested I pursue the overnight nurse that would be paid by Medicaid and have that nurse also accompany 4 to preschool. I told her of our difficulty in finding a nurse and said I am comfortable not having a nurse in our home. I reminded her that the school district is responsible for providing a school setting with appropriate medical interventions for 4 and gave my opinion that 4 would be fine as long as a school nurse was in the building, but not necessarily right next to him. She looked me dead in the eye and said, "Teresa, I understand that you want to do everything for 4, but look at what's happened because you didn't have a nurse.". EXCUSE ME?!?!?! Do you know who I am? Do you know what I've done for that baby?!?!?! Do you know that I check on him every 2 hours all night long?!?! Do you know that the issues he was hospitalized for had nothing to do with his care (or lack of), but are common complications of having a trach?!?!?! Do you know the only thing in this room larger than your lack of social grace is my ego?!?!?! Clearly she didn't.

"One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor."
Proverbs 29:23         

"For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.". Galatians 6:3ESV
"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom." Proverbs 11:2 ESV

I've been playing a memory verse game with Baby 4 every night before bedtime. I always go through how much I love him, Brandon loves him, Mommy and Daddy love him, relative resource loves him, Grandma and Papa love him, and God loves him. I say, "Do you know what God says about you?", and we go through our memory verses: I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am strong and courageous. God did not make me fearful, He gave me a heart to love, muscles for power, and a brain for strong mind. God knew me when I was still in Mommy's tummy. I want 4 to be confident in the identity that has been set for him by God. I want him to know that no matter what others say or think, no matter what circumstances arise- He has value and worth. If God wants that for my son, I can imagine He wants me to get a hold of it too.

Today is the day I'm getting over myself. I'm not saying I'm looking forward to my next WIC appt or rude comment. I do know, however, that those will come and I don't have to worry about what that person's judgement of me is. Regardless of what someone thinks of me- my God gives me value and worth. He knows my situation, effort, and intentions. Thank you foster care for showing me my flaws... again.

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