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.