Friday, May 11, 2012

"Foster Friday" Q & A - Through the Eyes of 1st Graders

When a person or couple makes the decision to become foster parents, that decision affects the entire family.  Biological children, extended family, grandparents, etc. are all brought into the emotionally exhausting world of foster care whether they want to be there or not.  I have been extremely fortunate that my family fully supports my decision to foster, and they have embraced each of my children as their own throughout this journey.

My niece and nephew were only three years old when I made the decision to foster, and they have been a huge part of my kids' lives.  At seven years old now, Buddy and Ka-Diva have spent half of their lives as "foster cousins."  I've never really sat down and talked to the kids at length about foster care or their thoughts and opinions on the subject, so I thought for our first "Foster Friday" Q&A I would "interview" the twins.  What I learned in that hour and a half long conversation just confirmed what I already knew about these kids.  They have huge hearts, caring spirits, and deep thoughts.  They also surprised me with some of their responses and made me rethink my own stand on certain subjects!  I hope you gain a little something from reading about foster care "Through the Eyes of 1st Graders."

When the twins learned that I was going to "interview" them, they were excited and a little nervous.  Christy and I assured them that there were no "right" or "wrong" answers and that I just wanted to know their opinions on things.  I started the interview by explaining what I was doing, and who I was doing it for.  I told them what a blog was, and I explained that people read my blog to learn about foster care.  I told them that many of my readers have kids of their own, and would love to know what other kids in foster families think about foster care and how they feel about it.  Buddy's response...  "Oh, we will be such a blessing to them!"  I know you will, kiddo!  :-)

The interview went a little something like this:

"Can you guys tell me what foster care is?"  (Ka-Diva approached the interview as she would the classroom, shooting her hand up in the air every time she wanted to answer a question.)

KD - "It's when moms and dads can't take good care of their babies, so we take care of them until they can."
Buddy - "Hey!  That was my answer!"

"So what do I do as a foster mom?"

Buddy - "You take care of them and do everything that a Mom does."

(The kids then proceeded to list every menial task and "Mom thing" they could think of...  ex. change diapers, feed them, hug them, kiss them, give them baths, wipe their nose, clip their fingernails, read to them, teach them things, etc.)

"Do you like being foster cousins?"  (Resounding "YES!!!")

"What is the very best thing about being a foster cousin?"

KD - "When we get to meet them!"
Buddy - "We get to help take care of cute babies and talk to them and play with them and help them when they need help."

"What is the hardest part about being a foster cousin?"

KD - "Diapers."  (always the practical one...)
Buddy - "Well, they seem like they're our family.  Then they have to leave and we don't get to see them, and they're not our family anymore.  We still have good memories, but I miss them a lot."
KD - "Yeah..."

"I think that's the hardest thing for me too."
"Do you think it's easier to talk about them, or not talk about them after they leave?"

KD - "Not talk about them..."  (Ka-Diva is kind of like her Aunt Tammy in that way.)
Buddy - "Talk about them, but I cry sometimes when I think about them...  I'm tearing up right now!"  (And he was!)

"It's okay to cry when we miss someone.  What are some good ways that we can remember them after they leave?"

KD - "Look at pictures."
Buddy - "Tell stories and good memories...  And look at their names on the wall!"  (When I decorated the nursery, Buddy had a great idea to put all of my kids' names on the wall so we could see the names and remember them.  To this day, they read the names on the wall every time they go in there, and usually tell a memory of each child.)

"Do any of my foster kids still feel like family even though they don't live here anymore?"
In unison - "Booger Bear!!!"
Buddy - "Is Booger our family?"

"Well, we get to see him all the time.  He comes to all of our birthday parties.  He came to Easter at Nana Nancy's.  Who all was at Nana Nancy's?"

KD - "Just family."

"Well then I guess Booger's definitely our family, huh?"

(Huge smiles and nods from both of them... :-)
Buddy - "And Monkey too!"

"You know, speaking of Monkey, I have a serious question for you guys...  Was it confusing for you when you heard Monkey call me 'Mama' instead of 'Mimi'?"  (I have always been "Mimi" before, never "Mama" until Monkey.)

KD - "Maybe a little..."

"Why is it confusing?"

Buddy - "Well, because your his foster mama.  Not his real mama...  It's not really confusing for us, but it might be confusing for Monkey."
KD - "Yeah...  He doesn't know you're not really his mama."
Buddy - "Yeah...  If he thinks you're his mama, he might be confused when he goes home and you're not there."
KD - "He's gonna think his mama left him."

(Wow!  All this time, I thought they were confused about it.  I had no idea they were more concerned that Monkey was going to be confused!)

"You know, I think you guys might be right about that.  I had never thought of it that way!  That's pretty smart!  So do you think I should just keep being "Mimi" with my new foster kids?"

KD - "Yes."
Buddy - "So you don't confuse them."

"But what happens if I get to adopt one of them, and they've always called me "Mimi?"

Buddy - "Well, then they can start calling you "Mama."  (like, duh!)

"Good plan.  I'll do that next time for sure."
"So I have another question that I've never asked you before...  I've only fostered babies and Angel, but if you could pick any age at all for me to foster, what would you pick?"

KD - "Teenagers!"

(That shocked me!)

"Teenagers?!?  Why is that?"

KD (practically rolling her eyes at me for asking a question with such an obvious answer) - "Because they can talk and have a conversation."
Buddy - "I want babies.  Just babies.  Or Booger's age..."
KD - "Yeah, babies or Booger's age or teenagers..."

"So Buddy, you want to be the oldest, and Ka-Diva, you want babies or teenagers...  So you wouldn't want anyone your own age?"

Both - "No."  (Guess that answered that!  I'm thinking we've got a couple of 7-year-olds who don't want competition. :-)

"Do you guys like it better when I have foster babies, or when I don't have foster babies?"

KD - "Kind of both sometimes...  When you don't have them, we get to go swimming and stuff more and don't have to worry about crying babies."  (Ka-Diva loves her Aunt Tammy, and gets a little jealous when she has to share me sometimes.)
Buddy - "I like when you have babies."

"Why is that?"

Buddy - "Because babies are cute, and I love to help them and take care of them.  And babies just love me!"  (A fact that no one will argue.  Babies flock to Buddy!)

"So if you guys were going to give advice to other kids in foster familes, what would you tell them?"

KD - "I'd say don't be mean.  I'd tell them to be nice and take care of them."
Buddy - "Yeah...  I'd say help them all the time."  (Buddy then went on a five minute "example" spree listing all sorts of random scenarios in which one might be able to help a foster child.  Ex. Reaching things that are too high, getting them out from under furniture if they get stuck, opening the art supply drawer for them, etc. :-)
KD - (Not wanting to be outdone, but always the "Little Mama") "Feed them, change their diaper, rock them to sleep..."

"Would you want to be a foster parent when you grow up?"  (Their answers were completely opposite from what I was anticipating...)

KD - "YES!  It's a nice thing to do!"
Buddy - "I don't think so...  It would be too hard.  I wouldn't want to let them go."

"So if a grown-up who had kids asked you whether or not you thought they should be a foster family, what would you tell them?"  (Again, their answers were completely different than I thought they would be!)

Buddy - "Oh, I'd say 'DO IT!"  It's GREAT!!!"  (This from the boy who had just said it was too hard...)
KD - "Don't do it.  You're kids might be jealous.  Wait until they're grown."  (This from the girl who just said that she would absolutely be a foster parent when she grows up...  She must only plan to foster before or after she has kids. :-)

"Is there anything else you want to add before we finish up?"

KD - "Nope."  (Well, okay then... ;-)
Buddy - "Yes.  I just want to say that I have a lot more confidence now."

(Thinking that he was just throwing a big word out there for the heck of it, I asked) - "You have more confidence?  How so?"

Buddy -  "Well, now that we've had so many babies, I really know how to take good care of them.  I have a lot more confidence."

"That's true, Buddy!  You have definitely learned how to take good care of babies!"

"Thank you, guys for answering all of these questions for me!  I know my readers are going to love your answers.  I think it will be a big help."

Buddy - "Oh, I'm sure it will!"  ;-)

And there you have it...  Foster care through the eyes of a couple of 1st graders...  I think I'll interview them again in a couple of years and see how their answers change as time goes on.   They definitely surprised me this time, and made me reconsider a few things.  I'm so proud of these kids!  :-)


Diane said...

Absolutely outstanding!

Laura said...

Tammy, I really enjoy reading your blog and think it is totally awesome. I know that through your blog and then just being Natasha's best friend I have learned a LOT about foster care! I really enjoyed reading K-Diva's and Buddy's answers, especially in regards to fostering when you have children. That has been my biggest thought/concern, I would really love to foster, but it just seems impossible for me right now. I do appreciate your openess in sharing your experiences AND the fact that their are good foster parents like you, Natasha, and Don. Y'all are do amazing things!!!!

Carrie said...

Love it!

Mie said...

I love this post. How insightful!

Nana said...

I've been anxiously awaiting this post all week! Couldn't wait to read what the kids said in their interview!

I am so proud of you all. My kids and grandkids are such kind, loving, giving people. I guess Papa and I must have done something right, huh? ;-)

Phoenix said...

Through the eyes of a child....

Pretty deep answers. I don't have young bio's, but this reminds me to never think a young'in can't understand what's going on.

Jenny said...

I love it! Thanks so much for sharing!!

Kylee said...

Such great answers and thoughts from your niece and nephew. major props to them - they are learning so much and seem wise beyond their years! I, too, will be interested to hear their thoughts as teenagers! Love this post!

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