Foster care rolls me out so flat, I am curly at the ends.
I have been working professionally for 5 years now, advocating for children in foster care. I thought it impossible to have my eyes any wider open. I was more prepared for this journey than any of those other schmucks in our foster parent training classes. Ha! Haha! Some things I knew and in some ways I was prepared. But the sheer, unexpected force of foster care is unanticipateable (hey, it’s my blog and I’ll make up words if I want to).
I prepared myself for the going part of these children coming. I prepared myself for innocence turned into negative behavior triggered by trauma. I prepared my home to every silly legislative requirement. But I never expected…
I never expected the children to walk straight into my heart. I never expected any of them to come and stay, like forever. I never expected them to be so small! I said, “send me the older ones, the tough ones” and our once family of three is verging on adding two under two.
I never expected… Listen. I used to speak to groups of hundreds of people and I would say, “these children come with a ‘verizon network’ of people connected to them.” But when that ‘verizon network’ turned into a parade of people marching though my front door, one at a time? It was an overwhelming flood.
I never expected the expectations. I have never met so many people who expect perfection in parenting. Even with the job where I WAS one of those people.
I never expected to be so dismissed – either I’m doing it for the money, or because I want to adopt, or because I’m crazy, or because I’m a saint – each reason an excuse to create distance between me and the “sane” folks.
Hey, I get it that it doesn’t look reasonable from where you’re sitting. I’m not really asking you to approve – but I admit to caring that you don’t. I don’t deserve that – but mostly, neither do these children.
Before signing up for this, I had a good, veteran foster parent friend tell me not to do it if I didn’t want to feel “stretched.” Wise – that one.