Officially Foster Parents

It happened...we finally have a foster placement.

There are now two little boys living in our home. They are brothers, one is early elementary school and one is the same age as Babycakes.

Things are...different. Sometimes hard, sometimes hopeful.

I do not regret our decision, but I certainly feel differently about this than I did when it was just an idea. The reality is...hard. I feel...on the outside of a lot of things. Fostering just isn't common, but everyone has an opinion about it. And I am starting to see why certain red flags were mentioned...but I'm also feeling like there are so many signs that confirm our decision to do this.

The way foster care works is that when the child/ren is removed from their birth parents, the birth parents are given a set of instructions/goals/etc to work on. If they show progress on these goals, they get increased contact with the child/ren until the child is approved to go home. There is also something called kinship placement, where the child/ren stays with other family members from the birth family. Both of these are still potential outcomes for these boys (hereby referred to as Thing 1 & Thing 2, because it is the first kid-centered pair that popped into my head). They currently have limited contact with their birth families.

This is probably as far into detail as I will go regarding their case, both for legal reasons and their privacy and our privacy.

It's hitting me for real that...I don't know how long this will exist. I don't know if these boys will be here in a month...which is both good and bad, honestly. Please don't think badly of me saying that- they are great children. Not perfect by any means but...they're kids. I care for them and I want them to be safe and loved and have a steady home. However...when a child who has been in my home less than 48 hours calls me Mom and says I love you...it breaks my heart. Because yes, on one hand it is sweet. But on the hand, it is heart-breakingly sad. Because as a mom I can't imagine Babycakes doing that with another woman. It fucking sucks to consider. It is a testament to how broken their childhood is already. So I can't respond with the genuine joy I now have with Babycakes. It kind of makes me feel like a liar- because I care for them, and I have love for them...but they are children and can't be expected to understand the various ways "love" exists in the world, and I worry that what I mean and what they think I mean may be different (realistically, almost certainly it is). Or are they saying it because they think that will make them able to stay longer, or make us be nicer (also super depressing)...or do they just not remember our names because they've been forced to meet so many new people during this journey (a very real possibility)?

Only 2 weeks into this placement and I can truly say I hope reunification can occur. I see how Thing 1, the older one, will randomly remember his parents and grandparents, and also how he tries to settle into our home. It's something that is so hard to balance, both for him and for us. And he's already asked how long he will be here...and I don't know. I want this family to, as my husband so eloquently put it, "get their shit together."* Just...do what you have to do to take care of your kids. If you need help, please get it...please use these resources...nothing would make us happier than seeing a happy reunification.

*That probably sounds judgmental...seriously, it's just the simplest and most blunt way to put this. We want this family to succeed and get their kids back and everyone end up happy. 

Maybe it would be easier if we had only taken in one- and if we had taken in someone closer to Babycake's age. There are definitely a lot of ways I think we are not the best match for these boys. And I struggle with that, because in some ways they deserve things we can't give them...but I also wonder if we are better than...whatever the other option would be.

I've wondered if it is realistic to even think of the possibility of adopting these boys (because literally, could be gone tomorrow or they could never leave). I've wondered if we should continue with the idea of adoption at all...I've wondered if we should just foster and not renew in 2 years (the length of a foster care license in NC). I've wondered if we should just do respite care for other foster families instead of long-term placements (basically weekends or holidays when foster families need a break- think of it as the equivalent of sending a child to stay with family for a small break but within the foster care system) and if that's even an option.  I've wondered if we should foster for 2 years and then try to have a baby biologically. I've wondered if I'm ready to have another baby biologically now and if we could possibly afford it (or try, nothing with kids is guaranteed). I've wondered if I would maybe be okay with Babycakes being an only child. I've wondered if in a month or 3 or 6 I will still have these boys in my home, and deeply in my heart- after all, I wasn't immediately attached to Babycakes either (although hormones and the biological process of pregnancy/delivery 100% contributed to that). This has made me view parenthood and our family and Babycakes- my forever child- in a new light and that at least has been interesting and kind of great (which also makes me feel like a terribly selfish bitch because I am not trying to pretend I am a perfect mom by any means, or flaunt my choices in a system that has clearly taken choice away from so many- under the guise of the greater good, but still...).

I see how broken the system is and know firsthand, after even this tiny glimpse, why people avoid it (which I knew in theory but secretly judged) and yet still feel that we can't all willingly ignore what is a true crisis.

At the end of the day...I went into this willingly. I am in this willingly. And I have no clue what will happen, and it's almost pointless right now to even consider what I want to happen. These boys are here, and we're taking care of them.

 Babycakes is a friggin' CHAMP. I miss my one-on-one time with her in a way that I never saw coming, to be honest. This has illustrated how intensely I love her; I struggled so much in the beginning of motherhood and then felt such guilt over that struggle that I didn't even realize how fiercely and intently I have come to embrace being her mommy. But she has rolled with everything and accepted these boys and played with them and loved them and generally been amazing. I know it can still affect her and we may see some things pop up later, but she has been great so far. It has been really hard to find resources specifically for families who foster with biological children already in the home other than "Oh it worked fine they learned so much," and I get that a lot more now because it is very different. But as an individual she is handling things much better than I feel I could have asked for.

I am super proud of Hubs & I. Our communication has been great, our teamwork has been great...we are rocking it at this moment. We have had one fight...which is pretty freakin' fantastic given this situation, and we both calmed down and acknowledged our poor communication/blind spots and made up and let it go. So while things are definitely a little crazy in our house, we're holding strong in a lot of ways.

To sum up...I am taking it day by day, and doing the best I can. We are getting by. We are seeing improvements and regressions. I don't know what the future holds, and I'm trying my best to make peace with that.

We are a foster family.

3 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing and being honest - you have to be. We can't walk around and say everything is a piece of cake when it is decidedly not. It is so important to talk about all the little things and the ways things impact us that we were not expecting - both for you personally and to give other people something to think about.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much for sharing! I think it's so awesome what you're doing, even though it's hard at times. Sending all of my love, thoughts, and prayers to you and your family and the two boys!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was curious how things were going. I really appreciate your (real) perspective. My Mom was a foster parent after I'd left for college and the idea kinda horrified me having experienced her first hand. It would break my heart to have to live with the brokenness of that family first hand. I'm also the champion for the underdog, so I always want to make things better, and I would struggle NOT doing things to "assist" with the situation, not to get rid of the kids, but to reunite them quicker with their parents. Life is complicated. Thinking about you.

    ReplyDelete