Recently, I read a post on Facebook that meant a lot to me. But I felt there was more to be said. Thus, I share a revised “Just the Foster Parent” list.
The original post can be read here, and I highly recommend it.
I was reminded recently that I am "Just the foster parent" Let me share with you "just" what I really am. I'm "just"…
Here is “just” what I, personally, am when it comes to fostering. Some are repeats or similar, but all are personal experiences. And this list is not complete. Each point represents a life I touched, a child that impacted me as a person, and memories of a soul that I will never forget.
I’m JUST a Foster Parent, My Incomplete Version
I’m “just” a mom of two kids of my own and have no “need” to grow my family or “supplement” at the gain of others.
I’m “just” the mom who has had to explain to my own children why a 13 year old has a 2 year old child or why the 2 year old in our care screams, bites, and hits all the time.
I’m “just” the person who gets phone calls while at the grocery store, in the middle of the night, and while on vacation asking me if I can pick up a new baby from the hospital in 10 minutes.
I’m “just” the person who has to ask permission and get court orders to be allowed to take a foster child on vacation with me out of county and then carries all placement paperwork, consent to treat, immunization cards, and documents just in case I need them.
I’m “just” a person who has invested thousands of our family’s money on things our family doesn’t need so that I could offer a “home” to those in my care temporarily.
I’m “just” the person who goes through annual trainings, attends meetings, and keeps my CPR and first aid up to date at all times, as well as has yearly home inspections so that I can be considered qualified to take placement.
I’m “just” the person who drops everything when receiving a call from a blocked number asking me to take placement of a child in need, including leaving a movie my husband and I had paid for and only watched 15 minutes of.
I’m “just” the lady who carries different car seats and diaper bags in the back of her car at all times when currently without a placement, just in case I get a call while out so I can go immediately to pick up the baby in need.
I’m “just” the person who has to hear everyone saying how good I am, what a special family we have, or how they could never do what we do, though I try to avoid it and have nothing to say and find it all super embarassing.
I’m “just” the person how has to protect the privacy of everyone in my care despite everyone in my town seeming to know every other person, including when people ask me what the kids’ names are and not being able to talk about them.
I’m “just” the person who worries when I go out in public that I am going to run in to a family member or friend of the family and then have questions or comments.
I’m “just” a mom who has learned to survive on interrupted sleep and no sleep for the last six years because I have chosen to foster newborns and infants.
I’m “just” the crazy lady who has lived with all of the baby toys, gear, and diapers for six years, hauling everything out with me when I need to go out.
I’m “just” the homemaker who has become OCD about cleanliness, safety, and security – always cleaning, securing, and improving my home for future children, always worried that a suprise visit from a worker may find me being told my home is not adequate, though it is far safer and cleaner than it has ever been in the past.
I’m “just” the pet owner who has clean, well fed, groomed, and trained dogs who are up to date on all immunizations and who picks up dog poop a few times a day so that no one can complain that my pets are a negative influence on my ability to foster.
I’m “just” the homeowner who has to go to the garage to unlock all of my cleaning supplies and hazardous items when I need them, who has all medications secured in the top of a closet instead of in medicine cabinets, and who has fully stocked panty and refrigerator at all times so no one can say we don’t have what we need to care for others.
I’m “just” the person who is not allowed to share anything on social media yet watches the biological parents share everything, including comments about me and my family, pictures I have given them that I can’t share myself, and more.
I’m “just” the person who has to document every bump, bruise, or owie of the baby with paperwork to the department and social workers, whether obtained by learning to walk or during a visit and explain all of the details surrounding said event.
I’m “just” the person who has to stop by the children’s center to sign paperwork and make copies of it before going to the hospital to pick up a newborn knowing nothing more than I am picking up “Baby boy xxx” or “baby girl xxx” and waiting while the security or nurses stations have to track down where the newborn is being held, after going from the nursery to NICU to the maternity ward and back a few times until they figure out which nurse is in charge and can help me. I’m “just” the person who takes almost 2 hours to pick up a newborn that has been ready for discharge for a few hours.
I’m “just” the person who has to explain to the doctors that I know nothing about the baby’s history, medical care, and have nothing more than what the social worker gave me at every doctor’s appointment, though they often have medical files they can access.
I’m “just” the person who sits and holds, comforts, and cradles babies going through horrendous drug withdrawals, crying because there is nothing I can do to ease their pain and discomfort.
I’m “just” the person who drives across town for visits with biological parents who more often than not are angry at me for having their child and can’t seem to do anything “right” in their mind, being told how to parent their child and what to do to help them, though the child has been in my care since leaving the hospital and never living with the parent.
I’m “just” the parent who takes the child for a visit only to have parents not show up and has to drive back across town after waiting for the workers to confirm the parents were a no show and cancel the visit – often 4 times before the worker decides the parents have to check in for all future visits. (No, that does not happen with every family, but it happens more than you would think.)
I’m “just” the parent who has to teach a 2 year old how to walk because no one has taught them in the past, or the one to show them how to eat with silverware, or who had to sleep on the floor with them the first night because they have never slept in a crib before.
I’m “just” the person who gets stared at when I have a baby of another ethnicity because my own biological children are so fair colored, or who has people frown at me because I have a child who has a broken bone or is covered with bruises that are healing. I’m “just” the one who they assume has done this to them.
I’m “just” the one to have to teach the kids boundaries and routine, including getting their bodies used to regular nap times and bedtimes since their life was so different before.
I’m “just” the mom who has to constantly change her schedule and be flexible with my biological kids’ needs and activities becasue I have to be available for visits, doctors appointments, and other things not previously planned before taking placement.
I’m “just” the person who loves on and cares for every child that has come through my home, regardless of whether they are my child or not. I’m “just” the person who bonds with and attaches to them, then cries when they leave my home, hoping and praying for their future – whether with a new placement, family members, or back home with their families – never to know what the outcome was.
I’m “just” a woman who has had her life forever changed by opening my home and my heart to foster children.
Of all of the placements that have come through my home, I know nothing of their outcome. I know a few went home with parents, a few went to live with family members (grandparents, aunts, uncles), and most were reunited with their siblings in other placements. But other than that, each child has left it’s mark on my heart and has created memories for me that I will cherish for a lifetime. Though I opened my home to them, they opened my heart, and I have been forever touched and changed by each little life I cared for.
I’m “just” a foster parent, and it is a choice I have made that I have no regrets from.
I’m “just” a foster parent – and I will continue to be “just” a foster parent for as long as I have the opportunity.