Why. It’s a good question. Even without a question mark.
I’m introspective so I ask it a lot. I’m extroverted so then I answer. (That’s right, I can’t stop talking even when I’m the only one listening.)
Right now, I’m asking it. Why do I. And here’s what I am answering to myself. Because. Who else. Because. I can. Because. The need. Because. The kids. The kids. The kids.
Because who else. Because I can.
Some people prefer the path of least resistance. I am not those people. Give me the path that isn’t even a path–the one that hasn’t been cut yet. Is the task difficult or scary? I will be first in line. Fostering is both difficult and scary so sign me up! People run from fostering and I get it. I do. It’s not for everyone. But I can do it. I can drag my hubs into it too. You’re welcome honey.
Because the need.
For too long, I sat behind a desk and read the statistics. I talked to kids. I implemented programs. But the whole time, I knew. My programs were nothing. The need leaked from the kids… “love me!” their faces screamed. So, I finally said okay. Did you know? The most critical thing a human needs to develop is another human who is irrationally attached to them? The “irrationally” part matters. Which is good. I can SO do irrational love. It’s my favorite kind.
Because the kids.
One of the kids isn’t a kid anymore. She has a shiny new PhD and an offer to work at a University. She sits in front of a room full of 800 people and says, “Yes. I was in foster care. Success? If you say so.”
Another kid is not on a pedestal, doesn’t have a podium, because he doesn’t have a PhD. He doesn’t have a high school diploma. No one says he is a success. People say he struggles. And they’re right. It doesn’t mean he didn’t need a home.
Another kid is too little for a stage or a podium. He is peeing all over my house. Peeing. And he is potty trained. He’s been with us, his no-matter-what-family, for a long time and he still can’t sleep through the night. Hello from the trenches my friends.
And so. I go to a conference hoping to learn how to be a better mom, how to help those kids, how to support families stitched together with the most tenuous of twiney fibers.
The presenter asks, who is an adoptive parent? A foster parent? A kinship provider (which means taking care of kids to whom you are related)? An adoption professional? My hand stays in the air the whole time. But I can’t breathe. I am all of those things and I am nothing.
The kids. The need. And me. I start to see my capacity next to the enormity of the need as finitely small. I’m picking up a starfish, two, then three. Eyes up, in a conference, on a beach, it gets harder to keep picking it all up, to keep believing I am making a difference for this one, two, or three.
Because a starfish needs its sea. I can throw some back. Others get to be part of my collection.
Why do I foster? My reasons above – remember? But there is more to it. Possibly a darker motive. You can see it can’t you? The way my arrogance peeks out from under my altruism? What makes me think I am the best answer to their need? Or, even the second best? Worse yet, what if, under the arrogance lies selfishness? I wonder, is my collection a happy accident or the point? I don’t really know the answer. Maybe the answer is the kids or maybe it’s selfishness. Maybe it’s both. I’m ashamed of the selfish part. I want my motives to be pure.
Maybe when we are honest, motives are always muddy. Maybe that’s okay.
So in the end, I foster because I can, because someone must, because the kids deserve irrational love, and because I believe I am a good option, and I collect hearts.
P.S. Did you notice how I didn’t say I foster for the money? Can you please trust me on this? No one does. People have their reasons, some without my arrogance or selfishness. But no one is doing it for the money. Stop saying it and–for the love–stop thinking it too.