Being a foster parent is hard, and it's easy to complain about it 24/7 on a loop. Many foster parents and foster bloggers do this- myself included- and it's not just because we're self absorbed brats. We really want to educate and prepare others who are about the embark on this journey. It's also an act of solidarity to speak out against "the man". We want to let the others know they are not alone in dark places.
Clearly, though, there are bright spots. Moments of purity and hope that keep us coming back for more. I've had a lot of those recently.
Moving from 2 kids to 3 was an adjustment for me. Baby Girl was sick during the past month, but even on a good day she needs a lot of medical attention. Baby 4 had all of his end of the school year field trips and family days before being home for summer break. Baby 9 is, well, a newborn, and as such needs me all the time. I've been urging my husband to go back to school for 10 years, and doesn't this punk decide to start listening to me now? So our schedule has been jam packed, but in a really good way.
Baby 9 is a delight. She sleeps and eats like a champ. She smiles in her sleep and sticks her tongue out proudly when you talk to her. I dress her up like my own real life doll and parade her around in different headbands and hair bows everyday. Her case was dead for the first 2 months, but now we are going to court pretty regularly and having a lot of visits.
I feel like I'm doing her case right. I'm completely attached to her- committed for life, yet I fully expect her to reunify with her Mom. I have not freaked out once yet over her case, even though some craziness has occurred (like the caseworker holding a service plan review without telling me). I have a prior connection to Mom that has given me some perspective. We had mutual friends in high school and spent prom together. It makes it easier to root for her. It makes it easier to understand her and appreciate how much she loves 9. I'm not as scared as I have been in past cases. Not because this case is less scary, but because I'm not trying to fix anything. I'm trusting the process. Oh, the plan is for baby to live in a halfway house? Sounds good. What? That plan fell through? Perfect. Overnight visits already? Sure! Judge said no? Works for me.
We'll see how long I can keep this going. I feel like giving this "good foster mom" attitude a solid try before going back to the Mama Bear mode where I'm most comfortable albeit more stressed.
When I think back on the good times in foster care, all our Hallelujah calls come to mind first. The rush of the moment you know your life has changed forever. Most people only get a handful of those moments: graduations, weddings, births, big moves, new jobs. I've gotten all the normal moments AND 7 calls that my family will never look the same after I hang up the phone. Those calls are addicting.
I also think about the normal family moments that we get in between caseworkers and court dates. I don't get around to blogging those much because I'm busy experiencing them. Going to the splash park on sweaty summer days and watching my son climb and splash with other kids, catching my baby's first steps on video, and making crazy faces with my kids and giggling until our stomachs hurt. The hugs and kisses and bedtime songs. Foster Care is a big force in our world, but sometimes we forget it's there for an hour or maybe even a day. Those times are good.
Foster Care is good when I'm surrounded by other people on this road. I have great friends and family. I've been blessed. But I feel most comfortable and accepted when I'm with foster parents. We all earned our stripes, and even when our ideology differs, we belong in the club. I really love other foster parents.
The good part of foster care is not what I expected. I went into this thinking adoption would be the silver lining. Foster Care was a means to an end for us. Now that we are getting closer to Baby 4's possible adoption, I'm realizing it's less of a "win" than I thought. I'm so honored to be his Mom and making it legal is awesome, but the getting here was good. Watching and facilitating the healing that brought us to the point where we even want to be a family- that was the good part.
What sticks out to me most when I hear or participate in foster care horror story exchange is that we all would do it again. I have never heard a foster parent say, "I wish I had never taken that kid" or "If I knew then what I know now, I'd never have gotten certified". A life with no regrets? That's when foster care is good.