Being a single, full-time working parent is hard. Being a single, full-time working foster parent adds an entirely new level of stress and responsibility that can sometimes be rather overwhelming.
Today, I am thankful that I work with a group of amazingly-supportive and understanding people. When I first started navigating my way through Foster/Adopt Land, I had no idea how crazy it could be. My first three placements were insane, and I felt like I was a huge burden to my co-workers as I seemed to miss more days of work than I was there. They have been behind me 100% though, and have willingly picked up the slack when my home life inevitably interferes with my job.
Fortunately, I have learned ways to better control CPS' invasion of my daily life, and have managed to keep its interference with my job down to a minimum (well, as "minimum" as it can be anyway). It seems to have become second nature to everyone at the office as well. When I received the call that Monkey was on his way late one Sunday night, I called and left a message for my boss telling him that I got a new little one and that I wouldn't be in the next day. When I called on Monday morning to check in, he had already gotten the ball rolling on my FMLA paperwork for me. He and my "partner in crime" both told me to "do what I need to do" and that they'd "handle everything there." My boss ended that conversation with "so I guess we'll see you part-time for the next couple of weeks while you do all of his initial appointments, and we'll get you back full-time after that!" It cracked me up that he seems to be an "old pro" at this foster care thing now too. :-)
On top of picking up the slack during the times that I have no choice but to be out of the office, my co-workers have always genuinely cared about my babies. They spoil them rotten when I bring them up to the office on the third Wednesday of the month (the one day a month that I take off for home visits). They are always on the lookout for coupons and good deals for baby things. They bring clothes and toys that their grandbabies have outgrown for my "on-hand stash." They bring totes and other bags that they come across because they know it kills me to send my babies home with their things in trashbags.
They offer advice when I ask for it... Listen to me vent when I need to... They humor me and ooh and ahh over what must have been hundreds of baby pictures over the past three years... And they have given me shoulders to cry on (and have cried with me) when I have had to say "goodbye" to my babies. Foster care touches so many people... Not only does it have an effect on the people directly involved, but it can impact the lives of everyone in ways that many people don't even realize. Watching my co-workers rally around me and my kids has proven to be a huge eye-opener for me, and has made me appreciate even more what amazing people they truly are (I thought they were pretty great before I started fostering). They are certainly under no obligation to be there for me and my babies, but they are... and for that, I am truly thankful.
I really do work with some awesome people. If I had the money, I would give them extra just for being fantastic people. Or a really fancy solid gold trophy!!! Fortunately, they seem to appreciate the occasional gift of morning donuts and chocolate every once in a while. They're a pretty easy to please bunch. ;-) But they are definitely a group of people that I am thankful to call my friends.