1) What has been the most difficult thing about foster parenting?
This is a tough one to answer…I hope I don’t sound too melodramatic, but every stage we’ve been in has had something hard about it. The licensing process was excruciatingly long and trying (at one point A was ready to throw in the towel!).
But then we were matched and those first few weeks were hard. Harder than I’ve really ever admitted to myself or anyone else. I was drowning in self-doubt and terrified that I had made a huge mistake by taking in these children. Could I really do it?? Can I handle these behaviors? Did I overestimate how much we could take on?? Did I just ruin a child’s life and my own in my desperation to be a mom? I cried a lot, and when I wasn’t crying, I was constantly on the verge of tears. I was exhausted and I just couldn’t see things getting any better. I was beating myself up for not enjoying something that I had waited so long to get. Thank God for A. She was my rock and there is absolutely no way I could have gotten through it without her. There is also no way I’ll ever be able to express how grateful I am to her for those weeks. I’m sure that time was also hard on her and she had the added weight of pulling me from my black hole. I now see her in a very different light. She’s amazing.
Now there is a beautiful balance to our life – and my emotions. I recognize that going from 0 to 2 kids has its challenges. Parenting is still hard. But I laugh way more than I cry and my heart bursts with love, no longer fear. In this stage the difficulty has been the uncertainty of the future. How long will I know these children? How are their lives going to unfold? Will they be safe? Will they be loved? How long do we have to wait before we know what the future holds? These questions have created a permanent knot in my stomach. It’s bearable, but its worse than I imagined it would be when we were in the training stages.
So there’s my somewhat depressing non-answer. The good news is, there is so much about foster parenting that is easier than I anticipated. It’s easy to love them. It’s easy to bond with them. Earning their love and respect and trust has been shockingly easy. Welcoming these children as a part of our extended family has been pretty flawless. The sleepless nights? No biggie! Dealing with bio mom? Not nearly as bad as it could be.
2) What advice would you give to someone just beginning the process of becoming a foster parent?
Throw out all preconceived notions and expectations now. Try to be patient – with the process and with yourself…when its meant to happen, it will. Open your heart as wide as you are able, but be honest with yourself in what you can take on. Helping one child is as great as helping 20. You won’t be perfect and that’s okay. There is not a single parent on this planet that knows what to do all the time. Get help – in fact, start asking family and friends now how they might want to be involved. I think you’ll be shocked at the resources you already have (I need to take this advice more seriously myself). Recognize and accept your bias, then do everything you can to put it aside for the benefit of the kids. Start shopping and stocking up now…it might seem premature, but once that phone call comes, things move quicker than you’d ever believe.
3) Are you hoping to adopt your current foster children?
Another tough question. My only wish is that at the end of all this, happiness and hope beat out everything else. I believe there is a plan for these children and I pray that they get to where they are supposed to be in the softest way possible. If we are called upon to adopt and raise these children, we will rejoice the opportunity. Then again, when I imagine bio mom finding the strength and power to be the mother they deserve, my heart sings.
4) Do you plan to take in more foster children?
Yes, absolutely. Its addicting 😉