I mentioned several blog posts back that I took a short break from writing because I felt like everything I said and did was taken out of context. To be honest, it just felt nice to have a little pity party for myself so that’s exactly what I did.
But…I’ve decided to do my yearly obligatory post about fostering. So, this is your warning to do what only you can do in this moment…..quit reading if you so desire.
We opened back up for respite care about 5 months ago and had strict plans to only do short term placements. We stuck to that for a couple of months and then received a call for a toddler they hoped to have home by Christmas. We were on board with that and wanted to help mom succeed around the holidays. First rookie mistake….savior mentality hit me hard and I figured I better say yes so reunification efforts weren’t sabotaged.
Enter this toddler who is super cute and cuddly but cries as if he’s in a crying contest ALL. THE. TIME. We walk into our house at the end of the day and it’s what I imagine war to be like. Henry starts hitting him to try to keep him quiet (this doesn’t work by the way), the girls are doing homework, someone has a game or practice, and for some reason they all want to eat. J.O. and I are playing zone defense at this point and typically yelling out things like: “Where is his cup? Grab a diaper! He pooped AGAIN. Do your homework! No, you cannot have fast food. Yes, you can have fast food because I’m never cooking again.” And so forth and so forth.
A couple of nights ago I was sitting at home while J.O. handled the ballgame and I texted a picture of a screaming child to my friend with some very choice words. Needless to say, she was also having a bad day so we went on a 10 minute tirade about the inadequacies of the system, the failures of the programs, and the fact that our lives are just not very fun.
And then I put all the kids to bed and started over the next day.
Now, some of you reading this are thinking…. “exactly. This is why I didn’t choose this life and don’t do this. I help in other ways but I’m not going to bring this many kids into my home.” And I would say okay. That sounds pretty awesome. My only caution would be to never change that mindset because once you open this door, you will never be able to close it. The need is too great and the families are desperate.
Just yesterday I was texting our caseworker about trying to get our toddler with his other toddler sister. In the same home. Because they should be together. And she told me she would work on it, but there were simply no homes right now for all the kids in care. Let alone a home that could take a 1 and 3 year old.
Truthfully, I get it. The system is completely overwhelmed right now. And not everyone is able to foster. But I have to believe this…..if only a third of the homes that were CALLED to foster would open, this wouldn’t be an issue.
I’m exhausted. I’m raising a toddler that laughs in the face of obedience and a 1 year old that deserves way more attention than I can give him. But the truth is….if we don’t continue who will? That’s not me being a savior that’s me stating a fact. I get no less than 5 texts PER DAY for placements of multiple sibling groups. Homes are closing faster than they are opening. Trust me…I would love to have the church nursery worker mentality of: “I did my part and now it’s your turn.” But there’s no one waiting to tap in. That’s not dramatic…it’s just the truth. And now, I’m simply too far in to turn my back on it.
You should know this……working with the state can be difficult, working with kids who have lost everything near and dear to them can be hard, taking in kids when you already have kids can be busy……BUT….literal lives are counting on you. Are the blessings better in the long run? Of course. The relationships I have to this day would not be there if it wasn’t for this journey.
But……consider this my PSA for 2020. Please, for the love of all current foster parents sanity, go through the training and open your home if you know you should. This is not a poor pitiful me post, this is a poor pitiful kids post. We shouldn’t be their only and best option. Our toddler should be with his siblings who look like him and not thrown in with us. But….that cannot happen until there are more homes. Period.
So, don’t do it to give us a break, do it to give him all that he needs.