I am currently trapped on the couch under a snoring 5 year old. He is stuck on The A Team right now and he really needed to watch just one more episode. I love that his current obsession was one of my favorite TV shows as a kid. I also treasure these nights when he asks me to stop working…
Earlier this week, Al Trautwig made headlines with a tweet insisting that Simone Biles’ adoptive parents are not her parents. Just in case you haven’t been obsessively following this amazing young gymnast as she dominates the Olympics, you should know that she was in and out of foster care until she was adopted at six years old by her biological…
Someone asked me recently if I thought that everyone who wants children should consider adoption. I am absolutely an advocate for adoption but I found myself pausing before I answered. The problem is that sometimes when we promote adoption and highlight the happy families it can create, we gloss over the darker side. The truth is that every tearjerker story about a family being brought together starts with another story of absolute devastation. Our children are not simply gifted to us, they are taken or abandoned or orphaned first. Sometimes the love of a new family helps to heal the wounds of that loss; sometimes it isn’t enough.
I am a foster parent not a foster carer. I do everything that a parent does, only I do so with kids from hard places who might stay forever or leave tomorrow and take a piece of my heart with them. I think it is insulting to rebrand my position to appease child abusers who don’t want to be reminded that their baby needs a mom and right now, because of their mistakes, that’s me.
Fostering is hard. This is a slow and hard process and there are no guarantees. We all have tough moments but our general attitude has to be that we want what is best for the kids even if that hurts us. I believe with all my heart that every child deserves to have someone that will be devastated to see them go. If you can be that person who opens your heart knowing it will be broken, then maybe fostering is for you. But if you can’t, then you should look for another way to help kids or grow your family.
Here’s the thing, foster parents DO NOT get paid to love our kids. We get paid to feed them and clothe them and be a stable force in their unstable lives. And, when I say we get paid I don’t mean that we make money. In some states, foster parents get as little as $300 a month to care for our charges. (Luckily Texas is higher because I spend more than that on gas in a month going to visits.) We’re asked to do a lot for those few dollars but we are never asked to love these children and really, if we were smart, we wouldn’t.
So, I learned that family court is chaotic and long and confusing… and sad. It’s sad because no matter who wins, there is always a loser. There is someone on the wrong end of the verdict who has to come to grips with the fact they are running out of chances and there really is no one else to blame but themselves. Even worse is when there are kids that lose.
Little Man has started dancing. It’s the funniest thing. He just bops his little butt along to any beat he finds, especially that new Pizza Hut commercial with the guitar. I know it isn’t a major skill like walking but it’s one of those parenting moments where they make you stop and smile and forget about the fact that you survived from Sunday till Friday on 14 hours of sleep. To me, those little mile stones are bittersweet. They are a part of what makes being a foster parent so rewarding. I experience the joy of watching this little person develop right before my eyes but that means that someone else isn’t seeing what I see. In a few weeks, he’ll go live with his dad and start this whole new relationship with a year’s worth of missed little moments.
I understand that I’m a foster mom and I have no real hold on my little girl but right at the moment I’m especially frustrated with a system that places the wishes of selfish adults above the rights of an innocent child. So for now I just rock my temporary baby and assure her that she can always call me mommy, even if it is mommy with an asterisk.