Monday, January 8, 2007

Deciding to Foster

Maggie's comment on the previous post brings up an important part of my foster journey that I skipped over. So let me back up a little bit in Chapter One. I began this journey for one selfish reason: I wanted to be a parent.

Adoption from the foster care system was a good fit because it was not a priority for us to have a "perfect child" typically defined as a healthy white infant. Through the initial paperwork we had to strictly define the type of child we the resources and abilities to care for. Everything from age, race, abilities, drug exposure, genetic mental illness and family/sibling group size. We were very open - partly out of desire -partly because we felt we had a support system, community and background that would enable us to help children with varied life experiences.

I wanted to be a parent. I wanted to adopt from the foster care system. I didn't necessarily want to be a foster parent. From the paperwork stage, through all the classes and up until the moment the homestudy was to be written we were going through this process to adopt....not to foster. At the last minute we changed our minds and decided to open up to being foster parents too. It was an easy decision because we didn't really know what we were getting ourselves into.

"Oh I could NEVER do that....how do you just give them up?"

The fear of losing a child is the most common comment I get about foster parenting. It is a very valid fear that I had...and lived through. My second foster placement was a newborn straight from the hospital. I cared for Vivi for the first 7 months of her life and then she joined her forever family. It hurt like hell. To this day I still mourn the loss of the dream of our lives together. By the time that I opened up my heart again and was placed with Ekida I knew it would hurt but I also knew she needed me...and I wanted to be there for her.

At some point the selfish desire to be a parent transforms into the child centered life of being a parent. The childs needs become more important than your own.

In foster parenting, the need is greater than most. A child enters your home with a NEED for a stable loving parent to help them heal and grow. "Oh I could NEVER do that" Yes, you could...if you were personally touched by someone in need, you would do whatever you could to help. It's easy to say no to an abstract concept but not when it is sad, big brown eyes looking at you. If you feel qualified to parent a child, you're probably qualified to foster a child. It is an emotional rollercoaster and it isn't for everyone. The need is greater, the problems are bigger, but the love is the same.

"How do you just give them up?" I never give them up, I allow them to go where they are destined to be. I parent them, I love them, I help them grow into the person they are to become. They never leave my heart, their pictures never leave the walls of my home. They are my children forever and I hope they have benefited from the time they spent here. I know I have.



There is a song from the musical Wicked called For Good that I call The Vivi Song that explains my experience of losing a child I have parented.

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you....

Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you....
I have been changed for good.

11 comments:

Maggie said...

Thank you. I know what you mean about "selfish" -- I often think to myself that I use the word "I" far too much on my blog. When you have a child your focus is more on them.

My heart broke after losing my host child. I know he's happy -- at least that's what I've been told -- and I'm grateful for that. But I still miss him. I don't know if I'm strong enough to do that again. That's why I haven't decided to foster. Right now, I think I would be doing it for the wrong reasons.

But it's something that intrigues me and I'm so glad there are good people like you that can do it. Maybe someday I'll muster up the courage to join you...

Maggie said...

p.s. the song lyrics are so apropos. I know that I learned so much from my little guy. I never could have imagined how much he could have taught me. I only hope that he gained as much from me.

Renee said...

so nice to find you! :o)

Momma said...

As a foster mom of almost 9 years, I LOVE your answers to those never-ending questions. I've not heard the song -- but I definitely plan to. The lyrics are perfect.
Thank you!

Yondalla said...

"Yes, you could...if you were personally touched by someone in need, you would do whatever you could to help. It's easy to say no to an abstract concept but not when it is sad, big brown eyes looking at you. If you feel qualified to parent a child, you're probably qualified to foster a child. It is an emotional rollercoaster and it isn't for everyone. The need is greater, the problems are bigger, but the love is the same."

YES! Exactly. I am one of the many "accidental" foster parents. I said I could never do that, until I found that could not say no.

Lionmom said...

Love this post. I still mourn the loss of our first twins, but we know they are where they're supposed to be and the twins we have now were meant to be ours.

Dangit, I can't find my Wicked CD, but you made me want to re-listen. I had always thought that song applied to my big girls in particular.

baggage said...

This was one of the most beautiful things I have read in a long time. And of course I love the Wicked song..

Thank you for this..I'm going to link to it on my blog.

Granny said...

I don't think you know me but I've read your comments on other blogs.

Baggage sent me over here. That post is beautiful.

fostermama said...

Hi! My blogger name is fostermama, so my partner (FosterMommy) clicked over to your blog after seeing a comment of yours somewhere. I just sat down at the computer and this post was up, and I am totally amazed at the similarities of our experiences and philosophies.

I can't wait to read more.

And I have to admit, I'm jealous that adopting through the foster system has worked for your family. It's what we really wanted to do, but it is just not happening in our county at all these days. Still, we're happy about where our journey has taken us, and we expect a crazy but wonderful ride ahead (we still plan to foster, though we are now working on adopting privately).

CA Momma said...

Oh! Just found your blog and love it. What a beautiful post. Just starting the process and scared to death. Thanks for the wake up call.

Lisa said...

I've always wanted to be a foster mom, partially because I always imagined house filled with children. Your post gives me confidence that I could do it. Thank you!