Wow. I have so much to catch you up on. It's been a whirlwind around here for a while, and I've been busier than I've ever been in my life, but I finally found a moment to steal away and write.
Our family has grown by one... but not in the way you are thinking. We recently became foster parents to a beautiful little boy. He's very bright, in fact, I think he's the smartest two year old I've ever met. He's only here for a short time, but we are cherishing every moment we get to spend with this special little man. I'll call him "Little Mr." here, as I can't/won't reveal his real name for his privacy's sake. But, I'm getting ahead of myself, and I'm sure you all want some background... so let me go back in time a little bit:
I was never truly interested in foster care, when we started our adoption journey. I know how emotional I am, and I feared that I would develop too strong an attachment (my new thoughts on this are a post for another time) to these children, and that a little piece of me would die each time they left, until finally there would be nothing left of me to give to other children. After taking the foster/adopt classes during our homestudy, we felt even more conflicted about foster care, since the ultimate goal is always reunification, even in some of the most serious removal circumstances. It broke my heart to think of returning a child to a potentially abusive situation. (Please don't judge me too critically for these thoughts; they were my own, and I am making myself quite vulnerable by sharing them.)
Our social worker asked us to be open to the possibility of fostering, and we said we'd think about it. Eventually, we decided that we would foster, if and only if the child was eligible for adoption. We thought this was a nice, happy medium. And then our phone rang...
and it rang...
Over and over again, we were getting called with potential situations: A _ week old child with broken bones and possible molestation. A _ year old child who was left in the car while mom shopped. A _ year old and a newborn with drug addiction. A _ year old who's mom just left town. The list goes on and on. The information was always minimal.
[Tangent] I think this is one of the hardest parts of getting into fostering. When you get that referral call, your heart races, just like with an adoption match. But, the information is severely limited. We were constantly told: "It's an emergency placement." or "We don't even know his/her name yet." or "No clue if this will turn into an adoptable case or not." or "Can you pick him/her up right now?" It's hard to have to make a decision in literally 5 minutes. And that's truly all you get in some of these cases. For instance, in the first case mentioned above, we said we'd do it. We gave our confirmation about 10 minutes after receiving the call. Our social worker called us back to tell us she/he was already placed with someone else. Obviously, our main concern was that the child was in a safe place, so we were fine with that. But, it's silly to not be realistic... our hearts were chipped. [End Tangent]
It seemed like there was never any clue as to whether these children were adoptable or not... we soon learned foster care doesn't work like that. Usually, it's not known until late in the game if the child will be adoptable, and at that point, the current foster parents will (sometimes) adopt the child.
But suddenly, that whole "adoptable" thing didn't matter as much anymore. Don't get me wrong, we ultimately want to adopt again, and our preference would be to have a child in our home who is adoptable. But, the phone calls about these children were wrenching our hearts right out of our bodies, so we changed our minds and began considering fostering non-adoptable children. We said no to some; we just weren't ready (housewise and emotionally in some instances). We said yes to some, but we were always too late.
Then, the day before my birthday, the phone rang again. A little boy was ready to be picked up at that moment. He would most likely be returned to his parents, as their offenses were somewhat minor compared to other cases. But still, we didn't have much knowledge and weren't sure what his name was or even what the particulars of the case were. So, we said yes immediately and went to get him.
Wow. The moment that door swung open and that smudge-faced little boy hobbled in in his PJs was a moment I will remember all my life. He was so adorable. We played and got to know each other for a little while, and then we took him home. He's been with us now for a couple months, and in that time we've grown VERY attached to him. However, I've learned that I'm stronger than I thought I was, because all I want is for this darling little boy to find his way back to his parents. It's quite clear how much they love him, and that they've taken excellent care of him prior to all this. He talks like a 3 year old. He helps clean up. He puts himself to sleep. He is potty trained. He gets along with Meerkat and treats her nice 90% of the time. Etc. Etc. Etc. Visitations have been wonderful. We've met his parents. I think that's an important part of fostering (as I'll write in my attachment post later). He'll probably be with us for a few more weeks (though we still don't know particulars... it could be days or months).
I'm cherishing every moment we have with him. He will forever be a part of our lives and family, even after he returns to his own family. We love him dearly.
Stay tuned. I am still confused and conflicted about parts of the fostering process, and as I'm working through all my feelings and thoughts, I plan to write more posts about things like foster-loss, attachment, visitations, etc.
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