“Compassionate people ask for what they need.  They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it.  They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.” –Brene Brown

As a foster parent you will have to learn how to say NO.  I know in the weeks of training or before getting placements you will think this task is a simple one but I will tell you it can become hard when your heart is attached to why you signed up to be foster parents.  You may cross the lines and change lanes from the original road you said you would take so many weeks earlier.  I’m here to tell you if you are walking this walk of foster care you will carry guilt but you are not alone on this road.  As any parent weather foster or biological it comes along with the job always questioning your decisions.

Today you came into this world. 

Today is your birthday buddy. 

Today is the day you made both of us mommies.  For her you are her first, but my third.  You were her unplanned moment in time but you were our surprise gift from God.

Words have many different meanings and it’s funny as a foster parent you learn quickly the words you should and should not use when dealing with the state.  Here’s my big WARNING sign to you all.  The language you used before becoming a foster parent will have to be adjusted.  You might be thinking like not using brown words like Sh!* or F@c$; are the main words I would be focusing on but truth be told I’m a mama that cusses and these are not the brown words that may get you in trouble with the state.

What does the word Mom mean to you?  In foster care the word has so many meanings.  It can be the word a toddler picks up because the other kids in your home are using it, it can be used as a word to hurt you, or it can be a word that your told shouldn’t matter if the child you care for chooses to call another women.  I remember the first day little man called me mom.  I remember the exact moment and where I stood in our home and his words, "I LOVE you mommy."  I also remember the first time a case worker told me that it’s just a word and it should not matter if now his bio mother wanted to use it.  All I could think in my head was would you feel that way if your children the ones you cared for started calling another women mom would you still feel that way?

I can tell you nearly three years ago when I said YES too little man I did not really understand the significance of that yes.  Of course I knew I would be inviting a soul that was broken and wounded into our home but there was not much thought after that.

I remember the day we decided to start our foster care journey.  I had a conversation with the Lord and it was a simple one……

Recently I found myself in my kitchen doing the normal washing of 1,000 dishes.  It was the night before all the kids went back to school.  As I stood over my sink I felt my eyes getting tear filled.  It’s not because of the obvious reason of my littles and not so littles starting a new year of adventures don’t get me wrong that brings me to tears to but tonight’s tears were brought to you by my in-laws.  My mother in law had called wanting to take ALL the kids out for ice cream to celebrate their new beginnings.

Recently as my husband and I sat in church listening to a great message the fire alarm went off.  We turned to each other and grinned from ear to ear.  We both knew it was a false alarm you could say we had that parent instinct kick in.  As our pastor stood at the alter and joked about how one of those wild teenagers must have not made it to their class all I could do was THANK GOD.  I mean I have one of those wild teenagers but I knew she would be where she was supposed to be.  It was that other one….that little boy that loves buttons.

It’s been a while…and I’m sorry for that.  When we started this journey I thought about all the great we would be sharing in our walk of foster care but as we have walked this walk over the last 3 years but especially over this last year I’ve been stuck.  How do you discuss the beauty of foster care when you have been stuck in the valley for so long? 

And here’s how……

Fostering and adopting abused, neglected and vulnerable children is a big deal, but it expresses itself primarily through very small, very menial, very hidden tasks that go largely unnoticed. The rude realities of foster care find themselves up for 3am feedings, changing a diaper of a baby that's not even yours for what seems to be the 100th time that day, on the phone with case-workers, lawyers, doctors and government departmental offices, filling out stacks of paperwork, sitting through court hearings, driving across the city for parent visits and trying desperately to manage behavior born out of trauma. This is a far cry from putting our super hero capes on while parading our family down the hall at church or through the aisles of the grocery store hoping people will notice how awesome we are.

 

Our call to care for kids in foster care is more about the help they need than it is about our need to help. We cannot use foster care as the means by which we gain our ultimate sense of fulfillment, purpose or meaning.   When we started fostering we knew there would be risk.  We knew that saying yes would change our family forever.  When you are in the midst of trainings you think to yourself your family will never have these issues but the reality is when you foster it’s not if but when an allegation of some sort will reach your families doorstep.

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