It’s been awhile since I posted–mostly because we have taken in two extremely needy foster children, and our lives have been so intense lately! From therapy appointments to school schedules and homework, our lives have been turned upside down! These are the first two placements we have agreed to take on for a longer time period. Imagine waking up five children (four of whom aren’t used to early mornings) just to take one child to school! (We’re waiting to get on the bus route!)
The night before we thought we were heading to school (that’s another long story), we headed to WalMart to get some lunch-type foods for our school child. Being a homeschool family, we are just used to heating up last night’s supper, or I might make something from scratch. We had no idea what we were allowed to pack for school, so we made a special trip out. I know that she didn’t mean to be thoughtless, but the cashier looked at us wrangling five different-colored children (none of whom look like us!) and said, “I could never do what you do. I’d get too attached to them.” *Sigh* It’s that line that we foster parents get tired of hearing–even from well-meaning people.
Lesson #1: Think before you speak–especially in front of the foster children.
On Thursday night, we went to a foster training meeting with our family of seven. A church in our area hosts the event and provides free childcare and dinner for foster families. We were exhausted from the new changes in our household, and we were looking forward to just sitting quietly. When we arrived, we immediately found a table and soon had full plates for the children. As we sat there, the speaker came over and said, “I have to compliment you on how well-behaved your children are! You’re doing a great job!” That was all this weary mama needed to hear!
Lesson #2: Words of encouragement are like a balm to a foster parent’s soul.
On our first day at our new school, the children were great! They walked hand-in-hand as they marched quietly across the crosswalk. I was so proud of them! But two rude parents were walking behind me and decided to make some comments on how many children there were as they walked without any children. It was disheartening to hear unkind words about my kids–especially when they were being so well-behaved (which never happens all at the same time!).
Lesson #3: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!
Since we have had our new kids, we have had several opportunities to be out and about as a family. One of our children is extremely whiny and has tantrums All. Day. Long. The counselor says that the boundaries and tough love are appropriate. But she’s cute and little, and she’ll go to anyone who will sympathize with her. So when I’m not looking, she gets whatever she wants, which leads to meltdowns later when she can’t get her way again. People mean well, but the boundaries are there for a reason.
Lesson #4: Respect the boundaries foster parents set. We know things that we can’t tell you, and we have to put strict boundaries in place for the well-being of our child.
There are a hundred times a day that I question this call to be a foster parent. The days are long; the nights are short; the therapies are never-ending. But just when I think it’s time to throw in the towel, one of the children will throw their arms around me and say, “I love you, Mommy Katie.” And that moment–when I see that they feel safe and loved and connected to me–I am reminded anew why we do this hard thing and why we desperately plead with others to join us.