When I first approached my husband about fostering, his response was, “NO!”. There was no wishy-washy coming from him. I asked him what he was afraid of and his response was,”falling in love with them and sending them back to their birth parents.”
Why are we so afraid of loving someone that needs to be loved? I remember in 2013 when we gained custody of our daughter. I called my dear friend Debbie to bemoan my fears and anxiety. As we discussed my drama filled life, she told me “children are not hurt by too much love.”
I thought about this statement for a really long time. Fear would often pop up its ugly head when the birth family would ask to have my daughter all day, but I would have to remember that children aren’t hurt by too much love. Sharing our daughter with her birth grandparents and paternal aunt was intimidating at first. I thought maybe my daughter would choose them over me or maybe I would lose my standing in her life. Fear can cripple us and stop us from doing what we can do best, loving someone.
Now it’s like having an extra set of in-laws and I’ve gained a new friend with the aunt. My children are blessed for having more people in their life to bless them. (Besides the fact that Christmas and Birthdays the kids get more presents. BONUS!)
A few months ago a friend said, “hey, I saw your parents with your kids.” I said, “my parents live in Illinois.” “Oh, then it was your in-laws” he said, with some confusion. “Where did you see them?” I then asked. “Air Bounce,” he responded. “Oh, that’s Pappo and Nana, my daughter’s grandparents,” I smiled, knowing that his brain was trying to figure that one out. This time I offered an explanation, but sometimes, I just don’t feel like explaining.
Everyone has different reasons that they foster. For us, we took the Path classes because we thought we’d do a kinship placement for our daughter’s newly born sister, but then we did it because we wanted to grow our family. I remember sitting in the Path class filling out paperwork and the teacher announced that we needed to choose a 5 year age span. I thought about our 3 year old daughter and what she could possibly handle. I didn’t really want someone older than her because I believe in birth order. She’s already super bossy and I didn’t need a second child thinking they could boss around the first child. I knew that wouldn’t go over well.
I feared the unknown. I feared getting into a situation where I couldn’t handle the child. I feared the issues that they would have because of neglect, physical or sexual abuse, and drugs. I feared giving back a child that I had fallen in love with. I understood my husband’s fear. In fact, I shared his fear.
Why are we so fearful of fostering a child? Don’t we realize that there is something beautiful at the other end of the darkness? This video gives some great advice on how to overcome that fear. One step at a time leads you to something beautiful.
I recently interviewed Wendy May from Girl.Fi.Day on my podcast. As I listened to her story, I realized that she faced her fear. She fostered a little boy and got to adopt him. Success story! Then she got a call from Children’s Services and she welcomed her son’s younger biological siblings. I was so excited for her as she told this part of her story because I remember wanting my daughter to know her sister. Disappointment, sadness, and frustration appeared once the two siblings were returned to their birth mother’s care. Did Wendy say, “I’m done, my heart’s broken, I can’t let another child in, or was her heart healed?” Listen to the podcast interview to find out.
It’s this bitter sweet moment when the birth parent gets their act together. You are glad they are no longer on the path they were on and you are happy for their success. Then this tiny part of you is sad for their success because it means you will lose that sweet child that you’ve fallen in love with. This happened to Wendy. Listen to the podcast to hear her experience and how her heart was healed.
I have 5 siblings and as much as they have driven me crazy throughout my life, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. They are my siblings. My dad always said, “you are closer kin to each other than you are to me.”; whenever we acted up or did something stupid. #dadhumor So to have siblings together is a DREAM for foster parents.
Giving back a child is almost like having a child die. I hate to be dramatic, but who am I kidding, I am a dramatic person. A little part of you goes with that child. You never stop wondering how they are doing. You wonder if they still have that adorable way of tugging at their hair when they are going to sleep at night or wonder if they outgrew their dislike of macaroni and cheese. I love that Wendy admitted to looking on Facebook for pictures. I’ll admit that I stalk too.
In 2012 we welcomed a sweet 8 month old little boy into our home. He was my dear friend’s grandson. He stayed with us for 2 months. During that time I got him on a sleep schedule, cleaned up his rash, gave him love, and provided a safe place for him until his grandmother was ready to gain custody of him. We fell in love with that little platinum blonde, blue eyed boy. It was also healing for me because we had just found out we had infertility issues.
I’ll never forget the day he called me Mama. My heart melted. He looked at me with his big blue eyes and flashed me a dimple smile after he said it. I think that may have been the moment that I knew I would love him forever. He still called me Mama for several years, even though he lived with his Mammaw. It warmed my heart. Having him also helped us realize we could love a child that wasn’t biologically ours.
We still get to see him and every time that I do, my heart yearns to kiss his little face. I try to resist because he’s almost 7 years old and I don’t want to embarrass him, so I settle for a big bear hug. He still acts embarrassed, but I don’t care. I want him to know that I love him. I feel pride when I see him do great things and my heart hurts when I hear him struggling at school.
Just like Wendy, I’ve never stopped loving the sweet little boy we gave back. I was recently looking at old pictures and I saw a cute picture of him as a baby kissing the mirror. He was delectable. It made me smile to think back on that memory and the time that we had with him. He paved the way for us to be willing to adopt. Our ability to love grew because we welcomed him into our home.
My friend Debbie was right, children aren’t hurt by too much love and I would have to add, neither are we.
For future posts on foster care resources, don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE.