Friday, June 22, 2012

"Foster Friday" Panel - Letters

As foster parents, we ride a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs with a wide variety of other passengers...  Some join us on the journey willingly...  Others are paid to be there...  Some are dragged onto the ride kicking and screaming...  And the smallest passengers are there due to circumstances completely beyond their control.

Often times, it is easier to express feelings in writing than to voice our thoughts aloud.  This month, our "Foster Friday" panel joined me in writing letters to people we have (or will) encounter along our foster care journeys.

Heather - Dear Mom and Dad,

Thank you!  You supported us through it all!  When you didn't understand you asked questions, and you actually listened to the answers.  You took on the role as grandparents flawlessly and you gave them that love and taught them lessons only a grandparent could.  Your hearts broke right along with ours, and likely even more because you saw our hearts breaking too.  When we asked if it was too painful for you and if we should stop, you looked at us like it was the dumbest question ever.  You were the first phone call we made when we got new kids, and I think you were always the first to meet them as well.  You listened to my frustrations even though you didn't understand them or know how to fix them.  You celebrated all of the accomplishments and hurdles that were knocked down.  Because of you we had the strength to carry on when our hearts were broken.  I won't ever be able to express the gratitude we have for you.  Thank you!

Heather and Blaine

Diane - Dear GAL,

Here we are, almost ten years after my daughter's adoption, and I owe so much to you.  You had faith in me, and you didn't even know me.  You cared about my daughter, and you had barely met her.  You were committed to your job, and you truly wanted to make sure that this child had permanency in her life and would be raised well and given a chance to succeed.

I remember the day we went to court when an aunt was trying to become the placement after it became clear that the case was moving to termination of parental rights.  You stood up that day and said that you had met this foster placement and were 100% sure that I was the best home for this child.  You told the court that you knew I would continue visits with the father even after adoption.  You supported the case manager, who was going against CPS policy and her supervisor, in recommending a non-family permanent placement.

Just days before, at a Foster Care Review Board meeting, I sat in the waiting room with my daughter's aunt.  I was initially open to a family placement, but after meeting the aunt, I was concerned.  By the end of the meeting, when the aunt's focus was clearly on how fast the move could occur and how much support she would receive, I was sure this was not the right place for my baby.  Not once was there any question about her or how she was doing.  I truly believe that your recommendation and reputation in court drove the final decision.

After the adoption was finalized, you agreed to be the intermediary to pass messages from the biological father to me, as I was concerned about giving out my contact information.  That offer was used many times as father changed phone numbers and ended up in and out of various housing, rehab facilities, and even jail, where you helped me locate him once.  Luckily those days are now over and father has stabilized and remained so for about four years.  We are now able to communicate directly.

I thank you for the times you have seen me at court for other cases and asked about my daughter.  I look forward to giving you positive feedback each time about her father and the positive relationship developing between them.  It was a joy to be able to re-introduce you to her at twelve years old last year!  She has grown into an amazing young lady, and I'm so glad you allowed me to be her mother.

You are one of the gems in the system.  You care about what you do, and you do your best every day.  Thank you for all of your hard work.  Thank you most of all for believing in me and taking a stand for my daughter!

God bless you,

Joy- I have always wanted to write a letter to one particular family who adopted a child from overseas and then sent her into a life of foster care - because she didn't "fit in" like they thought she should.

Dear Family,

You have missed out on so much.  You brought this sweet girl across the world.  You rescued her and then when she didn't fit in at your country club, you threw her away - all of four years old.  Despite your neglect of her, she overcame.  Not once, but twice has she been without a family.  But today, she has a family of her own.  She is smart, beautiful, successful.  She is strong.  She plans birthday parties and kisses fingers and toes.  She sticks around through the hard.  She doesn't give up.  And you, you have missed out on her beautiful life because your friends down at the country club didn't want to come visit when your child looked a little different than the rest of the neighborhood.  How terribly sad.  I hope one day, you will see what you've missed out on and come back to make amends in the end.


Mama P - Dear **MyState** Department of Human Services,

I'm fed up with you!  Stop riding your power trip that makes you feel like you are something important just because you can lie to a judge and get away with it.  Stop doing favors for bio families because they are the CASA volunteer on your case and you want them to recommend reunification in your other cases, so you fight to get reunification for their family member.  Stop standing up in court like you know the child, when you have only seen them twice in six months.

Just stop.

Unfortunately for you, I am not an ignorant foster parent collecting a check and minding my business so that check will keep coming.  I am a financially stable child advocate who will fight for what is best for my children, regardless of what stupid contract I signed saying I would do whatever you want me to.

I won't.

You can threaten, call and tease me with placements, hold the finalization of my adoption over my head, and continue with the surprise unannounced home visits.  You can even move the children in my home and crush my heart.  No matter what you do, I am not going away.  I will not stop until SOMEONE sees what is going on and things start to change.  I will not stop until every one of you are without a job, or forced to do it right.  Even if it means no more foster children in my home.  I am on to you, and I know that it is people like you who are keeping these children from having good foster homes and adoptive homes because everyone is scared of you and what power you have.  Foster parents give up their licenses every month because they are scared.

I am not.

There will be change.  When, how, where, what, and why, I do not know.  My eyes have been opened, though, and I will not close them again.

You are sinking your own ship.

That crazy foster mom who gets too involved

Marie (aka. "Mie") - (To our son, Logan, who was 3 at the time we were licensed.)


We're about to embark on a crazy journey.  Your bright little mind will be able to understand some of what we're going through but I know that not everything will sink in at the time. I want to take a minute, before our lives change forever, to tell you why we're doing what we're about to do and remind you how much we love you.

Logan you are a blessing from God - you really are.  When you were born we called you "the one we waited for" - and we did.  At the time we thought we waited a lot - we waited to start trying for 3 years.  We waited another 9 months before God placed you in my tummy.  We waited another 9 1/2 months to meet you.  It seemed like we waited forever.  After you were born we decided not to wait so long before we gave you a brother or sister.  We wanted you to have at least a couple of siblings that you could grow up with and we didn't want to wait too long.  God had other plans for us son.

For 2 1/2 years we were forced to wait for a sibling - believe us we did our part, but God chose not to put another baby in our tummy.  Mommy and daddy went to a lot of doctors to see if something was wrong.  We expected the doctor would be able to fix us right up.  One day the doctor called mommy at work and mommy cried.  She cried a lot.  The doctor said that mommy and daddy probably would never be able to have more children.  As it turns out, mommy and daddy have a medical problem that the doctors can't cure.  The doctor told us that you are a miracle.  Someday you'll learn what a big deal it was that you were able to grow in our tummy - you'll see that God is real and HE wanted you to be born at least as much as we did.

Mommy and daddy prayed.  We talked to each other.  We talked to friends and family.  We still wanted you to have siblings.  We wanted to be mommy and daddy to more kiddos.  You are more than enough for us, Logan, and we would be happy if we never had any more children but Logan we strongly believe that your life will be better with siblings.  And you want them too.  You talk about your brothers "Benjamin" and "Charlie" all the time.  We don't know who Benjamin and Charlie are, but we know you want brothers.  And maybe a sister - but definitely brothers.

Logan there are some children out there who don't have parents to take care of them.  Some parents get sick.  Some parents make bad choices.  Sometimes God decides to take parents to heaven.  For many, many reasons there are children who don't have parents and mommy and daddy have decided that we want to help these children have a family when their parents can't take care of them anymore.

Sometimes the other parents just need to get better, like when they're sick or they're learning to make better choices - then we can be foster parents and only take care of their children for a little while.  Hopefully, these brothers and sisters will get to go home to their mommy and daddy one day so they can be a happy family.  Logan - this is going to hurt our hearts.  We are going to love new brothers and sisters.  You're going to learn to share.  You're going to learn to play.  You're going to learn to love them and be a great big brother.  But then one day, Logan, some of your brothers and sisters might leave and you won't get to see them again.

Logan - you will NEVER leave.  You will always stay.  You grew in mommy's tummy and you will always stay close to mommy and daddy.  We will take care of you for as long as God will let us.  Even when your brothers and sisters leave, you will always stay.

I know this is going to be confusing at first but you will be great at it!  You will learn to be patient.  You will learn to be kind.  You will learn that family comes from many different places.  You will learn that people make bad choices but they ALWAYS have the chance to make a good choice next.  You will learn forgiveness and love in a way that many kids never get the chance.

You will also learn what it's like to lose.  That is hard.  Mommy and daddy will always be worried about how your heart will hurt when your brothers and sisters leave.  Someday you'll tell mommy and daddy that you "don't want brothers and sisters that leave.  (You) only want brothers and sisters that stay."  We know that with your 3-4-year-old little boy words you're trying to tell us that you don't like it when they leave, that it hurts and makes you sad, and you don't want to do that anymore.  We understand Logie.  We don't like it either.  At all.  But we're going to protect you as much as we possibly can.  We're also all going to learn what it's like to trust God and learn to love, even when it's really, really hard.

Someday you'll have a sister - her name will be Sophia when she comes to us.  She won't be much fun to you at first - she's a baby who is hurting.  But someday that little girl will become your sister.  You'll get excited about all the cool things she's learning to do, like walk and talk and give you love.  We'll start to call her Summer.  One day - you'll finally get your wish - Summer will be a sister who stays.  You will love her forever.  You will protect her, just like a great big brother does.  You will call her your forever sister.  The four of us will be a core family.  You will love that.  She'll start to go to YOUR school and you'll be so proud and show her to all of your teachers and friends.  You'll tell them that this is YOUR sister.  You'll meet up with her on the playground.  You'll tell us about all the stuff you see her do on the playground and how she comes to say hi to you through the fence that separates the little kids and the big kids.

Mommy and daddy are going to continue to pray that God will show us what to do in our lives.  We believe God wants us to be foster parents and for you to be a foster brother, at least for now.  This does scare us a little bit - more than anything we don't want you to be sad or get hurt.  We wanted you to have a couple brothers or sisters and we'd be a perfect little family.  But God wants something more than that.  You'll have at least 10 brothers and sisters - not many kids can say that!  You'll love having a big family.  You'll get annoyed at times with the crazy things some of them do, but Logan you'll amaze us with how compassionate you can be.  We want you to know how proud of you we are.

Logan, mommy and daddy don't know if we're ever going to be able to show you what it's like for you to have a brother and sister who grows in your mommy's tummy.  In fact, that will kind of be a weird concept for you for a while.  We would love to let you have a brother or sister that way and maybe God will let us someday.  We also don't don't how many brothers or sisters that will stay.  It may be a whole lot.  It may only be your sister.  Either way, you'll have a sometimes crazy, mostly wonderful experience that many, many children don't get to have.

We will always love you.

You will always be the one we waited for.


Andrea - Dear M's Biological Mother,

I will probably never speak to you.  I'm not sure I'd ever want to.  But my oh my do I have things to say to you.  I will never understand what you did.  There is not a single excuse on this earth.  It's not up to me to judge you.  I try hard not to.  I slip and I judge.  I see this precious little boy that YOU brought into this world.  I feel sad for what you are missing.  I pray you will never see him or his sister.  I do not give you any credit for the amazing child that he is turning into.  He's been with us since he was 35 days old.  I am his mommy.  I am the one there in the middle of the night.  I am the one that sees his "firsts."  i am the one at dozens of appointments and therapies just to make sure you didn't do any more damage to him than what we could see.  You gave birth to him, but that doesn't make him yours.  It does not make you his mommy.  Yet, from behind bars (where I pray you remain) you fight termination.  You lay claim to him and his sister.  You fight letting them be adopted.  You fight letting them have the family YOU denied them.

There are many people who wish you death, who wish you eternity in hell, who wish you lethal injection or a firing squad.  There are those who wish you the same treatment you bestowed on your children.  I do not wish you those things.  What I wish is that you remain behind bars all your life.  That you are denied access to your children, forever.  If they one day choose to see you, then I want it to be on their terms, and I will not deny them that chance.  If they ever choose to seek you out for an explanation, I want you to have to look into their eyes and know what you missed because of the horrid actions you chose to make.

However, in the midst of all my anger towards you and what you did to those precious souls, I have to acknowledge that you chose to give birth to them.  Without you, I wouldn't have him.  Without you, they wouldn't have A.  Without you, these amazing souls wouldn't exist.  You were not a mother to them.  You were cruel beyond words in ways that horror stories can't compare.  Yet, without you, I wouldn't have tight hugs in the morning, laughter, first steps, drooly kisses, and the most amazing little boy.  Thank you isn't the correct phrase.  I don't know what is.  Because as much as I love that little boy, I wish you would have been his mother, that he and his brother and sister would have never suffered their awful fates.  That they would never have known harm at their mother's hand.  I would trade having him, knowing him, and loving him if it meant that they would never have known harm and hurt.  Yet, they did.  Now they are safe and loved and cherished beyond words.  The way they deserve to be.

M's mother.

aka. Mimi - (a letter to myself when I first started on my fostering journey)

To Pre-"Mimi" Me,

You did it!  You put on your "big girl panties," conquered your fear, and decided to become a foster parent!  I will tell you right now that your fears were valid.  Being a foster parent is going to be the most difficult, heart-breaking thing you've ever done in your life.  But I promise you...  It will also be more rewarding than you ever dreamed possible.

Right now, you are leaning on the hope that you will quickly be able to adopt one of your foster children.  You want to be a mom, and you just know that adoption through foster care is the answer.   Your trainers in class play on that dream for you and the other "hopefuls," and talk big about how "most foster parents get to adopt within the first few placements."  You will probably be discouraged to learn that four years later, neither you nor your other foster care friends from that initial training have been able to adopt.  

You will probably also be surprised to learn that you are perfectly okay with that!   You have become a full-time "mom," a "grandma," a "mama," and a "mother-in-law" to more kids than you ever thought you'd have in just four short years.  You have an amazing family because of foster care...  A family that you chose...  A family that chose you.  Your life is filled with love, laughter, smiles, and joy.  Your cup runneth over! 

Remember this on your most difficult days.  Remember this when you drop Booger Bear off at daycare on the morning of court, only to find out that he's not coming back.  Remember this during the following weeks when you go into hiding and think that you can't possibly produce any more tears.  Remember this in the following months when you think you're learning to move on without him and you dream that you are holding him again, only to wake up and find your arms empty and the loss renewed.  Booger Bear will come back into your life when you least expect it, and he will bring with him your familyRemember this!

As time moves on, you will find that your focus will change.  You will no longer be desperate to adopt.  You have your family!  You will be there for other babies who need you, and you will become "Mama" to a little Monkey who will stay in your life even after he goes home to his daddy.  You'll learn that helping these children is what you were meant to do, even if it is just temporary.  You'll also learn that you have a gift for developing relationships with birth families (under the right circumstances), and when you do, they tend to stick around for the long-haul.  ;-)

As you begin your foster care journey, know that you will often question whether or not you can continue.  There are so many obstacles...  So many heartbreaks...  So many hurdles to jump and red tape to break through...  My advice to you?  DON'T QUIT!!!  Without that perserverence, you could miss out on loving some amazing children.  After only four years, you have a life so full that you can feel like there's not enough of you to go around.  But you wouldn't have it any other way, and you can't wait to see what this journey brings next!

Hang in there!
"Mimi" Me

I would love for all of you to write your own letters and link up here!  The possibilities are endless:
  • foster children (current, past, or future)
  • bio families of your foster children
  • yourself (past or future)
  • your biological or adopted children
  • your extended family (ex. parents, siblings, etc.)
  • professional workers involved in your children's cases (ex. caseworkers, judges, therapists, attorneys, etc.)
Just write your letters on your own blog and use the link widget below!  (First time trying this, so I'm hoping you'll participate! :-)

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