Friday, May 4, 2012
"Foster Friday" Guest Post: How Foster Care Has Changed Me
Andrea from "Live with Laughter"
"How Foster Care Has Changed Me"
This is such a loaded topic. We became foster parents nearly three years ago. We have three wonderful sons, but I dreamed in purple and bows. We decided to take the training to become foster parents. After a few trainings and our home study, we got our first foster placement. We didn't even have our license in our hands yet. Despite being told we only wanted a girl, the van door slid open to reveal a baby boy. Right then, I was changed.
Our sweet J came into our home at twelve weeks old. He had a head full of black hair that I didn't know how to care for properly. The first major change occurred when I had to question a stranger in the hair care aisle at Walmart. Never would I have exited my nicely decorated comfort zone to speak to strangers. Thankfully, she did not think I was insane and took the time to tell me how to care for him. Our sweet J drooled like a faucet. He babbled and had a giggle that sounded like a car trying to start. I loved that little boy. I am still in awe that my heart swelled to care for J as if he were my own.
There are other things that have changed. I am a much more flexible person than I used to be. Now, there are those who will still claim that I'm as flexible as wood board. However, between doctor appointments, therapies, trainings, and the unknown, I have become much more willing to go with the flow of life.
We are on our fourth and fifth placement, and I am much more vocal for my kids now. I will call and call and call. I will hunt down social workers, guardian ad litems, and CASA workers. I am committed to being an advocate for my kids.
Another change is that I am surrounded by people that I would have never invited into my life. I try very hard to get to know my children's biological families. I have to put my feelings aside and do what is best for my kids.
On the other side of that coin, I have had amazing people enter my life that I would have never found without being a part of the system. Foster parents are a unique breed of humans. We have to open out lives and hearts to children who are hurt and broken. We have to love and care for them, and provide them with life skills and courage. We then have to say goodbye. No one other than another foster parent can understand what it takes to do that and then open your home and heart to another little soul. I am so very thankful for the foster parents in my life.
There has been anxiety, tears, fear, heartache, indecision, and sorrow. There has also been smiles, giggles, and a love like I never knew. I have watched my three boys love and accept the little people in their lives. I've seen my husband fall to the floor with five kids piled on him.
I always say that I truly wish foster care was not needed, that families could love and care for their own children. That is not the case. So since there is a need for the system, I'm happy that I get to be a part of it.
I have changed. My calendar is overflowing. My minivan and home are at capacity. I have been down the tunnel of anxiety and nearly let fear overcome me, yet emerged stronger than ever. My heart is fuller than I ever thought possible. Most importantly, my family has expanded beyond the borders of birth and grown in a way I never expected!