Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Thoughts on Foster Care Month...

I recently learned that May is national Foster Care Month. Who knew? I had no idea. Seriously...not a clue. And I'm gonna be honest, sometimes I get really tired of celebrating this profession but not that one or a certain industry but not another. 

In my is. exhausting.

And kind of unfair. Because I'm still waiting for Marketing and PR Professionals week. But, yet, it never comes. And I say all this being married to one who has his own week (Respiratory Care) and month (healthcare) but who doesn't really celebrate either because he just views it as his career and calling.

But anyway...Foster Care Month intrigues me because I think there are some misconceptions out there and, up until recently, I was one of the biggest offenders. I do not say that lightly but with all sincerity. And our situation is not traditional in the foster care sense but we do deal with a lot of the same issues. And some additional ones that we might not know of in a traditional set up but that's really neither here nor there, quite frankly.

So here are a few thoughts and observations. Please, please do not take this to be any sort of end all, be all list because it's just not but I think maybe these are few of the biggest issues folks could benefit from knowing.

1) Foster care/foster-to-adopt is hard, y'all. 

Like, really hard. Particularly for Type A people like me because you want to know all the facts, make swift and informed decisions, execute said decisions quickly and move on with your new - and amazing - life. But it doesn't work that way. 

The system is over taxed, workers have case loads you can't imagine not to mention they're underpaid, all of the services associated with the system have the same issues AND movement is slow. Like, painstakingly slow. There are procedures that must be followed to be legal even when you cannot possibly see the benefit and it's enough to drive a Type A personality absolutely insane. Or at least to tears. Which it has. On multiple occasions. It's not an instant family with all of the loose ends tied up. It's messy. And hard. Most things worth having are and, y'all, it's soooo worth it. 

And, one more thing, those who choose to make this a career are doing it because they love it. They love these kids. They want what's best for them and will fight for them continually. If they didn't, there's no way they could survive because they put up with more than one could possibly imagine.

2) There are things foster/foster-to-adopt parents want to to/say/share but they just can't...

I would love to fling Baby S's photo all over social media. I have the most precious newborn photos you have ever seen not to mention recent pics of her laughing and giggling. And I can't share them. I can't even tell most people her name. Yes, this is a way to grow your family. But there are many non-conventional nuances to the process. And your heart wants to burst because everyone wants to share in your excitement but there are things I took for granted when Taylor was a baby that I will not again. Ever. 

And you want to tell people so many specifics so they can pray for you but there's this little thing called privacy. And even when you think one might not deserve it, they are entitled to it. And so you vaguely ask for prayers and are so grateful when they roll in.

And you want to believe absolutely nothing can happen to change the situation. But there's a possibility. Even if it's not a large one. And it creeps up on you in the middle of the night/day/morning/afternoon when you least expect it.

Please, friends - don't take your conventional experiences (whatever they may be) for granted.

3) It's a blessing.

In the past 3.5 months, I have learned more about dysfunction than I ever thought possible. There are things I thought only existed on reality television shows (and were done for ratings) that are real. They are happening in our communities. They are heartbreaking. Sad doesn't even begin to cut it and it will make you question everything you thought you knew.

But what an awesome God who would use us to save even one of these precious babies. I see of a lot of folks who call on the Church to mobilize and get involved more in foster care because there are so many children in need. Who better to love on the orphans than Christians? And I wholeheartedly agree. But there's also a growing number of children who age out of the system. They have nothing and no one and are expected to find their way in this big, scary world. They need the Church as well.

And, at the end of the day, I consider having Baby S in our lives nothing but a blessing. Even with all the things that may cause me uneasiness or anxiety or cause me to want to fall on the ground in a heap. I do hope we're a blessing to her - that's for sure. But I absolutely believe she's blessed us more than I've ever blessed her.

4) It's scary.

The things you see on Facebook or out in public are genuine. We're ecstatic. We're enjoying every single moment. We've waited for this for so long. But there are the moments you don't see - the ones where you collapse into a puddle of tears on someone's chest and beg for this process to move quickly because you are terrified for this child. Because you know too much about the situation and cannot imagine ever handing them over to anyone. 

The ones when your friends and family (hello, Tonto) have to pick you up, dust you off and remind you that what is most important is right in front of your face. That all you can do is take care of this baby, cherish every moment, and pray that God will work the rest out, knowing He loves her even more than you do.

5) It will stretch you farther you thought possible.

To call these uncharted waters would be simplifying a somewhat complex situation. To say that God has made this Type A girl relinquish any and all control is 100% true. To know that - no matter what - no one can ever take this time away from you is a comfort. And to believe that it will never end is a necessity. And, in the midst of it all, I'm grateful. We're grateful. And forever changed.


Natalie said...

You are so amazing - those girls are blessed to have you as their mama.

Also, I keep waiting for marketing/PR week too.... :-/
xoxo -

Kendra said...

Unbelievably powerful and honest. Thank you for sharing and for being the giver you are to Tonto and to these girls.