Being a Foster Parent is not for Sissies! Or, Doing the Hard Stuff

My last post was so long ago, that I missed blogging a half a year’s worth of really good stuff, really scary and bad stuff, and really strong emotional stuff that I’m so glad to be through.

In the last half a year, we officially became foster parents. I thought that during that time, I would especially love to blog. I wanted to be an encouragement to other people considering foster care, others who are doing foster care, or others who may be thinking about adoption in the future. I had this great rosy picture of how it would be hard because the kids would be going through a lot, but easy because God would get us through, give us words of wisdom, and give them peace in our home. I thought I would have difficult conversations and be stretched, but I never imagined what lay ahead of us. Never in a million years could I have anticipated how it would play out. I’m glad; I would have hidden under a rock and never come out.

Our first two placements we met within three days of each other; a 5 year old girl and a 12 year old girl. They were from two different families, shared a room in our home, and were going through very different things when they came to us. Can I just say first off, that neither of them was pulled by CPS for ‘no reason’? I’ve heard from various people that CPS here has a problem with so many kids in the system because they just take kids away from people without a reason. I’ve heard so many stories now from other foster moms; I’ve yet to hear that’s the case. What some of these kids go through is unheard of and heartbreaking. I’m not saying that there are not faults within the system, but I think the majority of cases locally where I am are legitimate. We are also not paid handsomely…it’s not a job, and if I wanted a job that paid well, I would run from foster care.

I expected tears (which were hard to bear night after night), uncertainty and fear (which is expected in a new home and new situation), school problems (which were brutal to deal with because the teacher assumed I had boat loads of time to play catch up with our girl and in reality I was trying to teach two others as well), and practical problems like needing to buy oodles of things just to get them the basics they needed for school and home life when they arrived with nothing.

I did not expect that I would need to be available to various counselors, workers, agencies, and drop off/pick up services almost at their whim. Some days, our plans for the day would change 5 or 6 times based on someone else’s schedule and what they could make work. This would happen over the course of the same day. How do you even plan a playdate or a trip to the park when everyone else can’t get it together? How about dinner? I literally stopped scheduling my own life so that we could be available to these girls and the various things that “the system” said “they needed”. A normal family life was not an option, though from my understanding, that’s the point of using foster families instead of group homes.

I did not expect to have massive personality conflicts between kids. My boys have prayed over and over (and still do) for the kids coming to stay with us. They know we have to be sensitive, share, love them when they are being unlovable, and teach them the rules of our home and family; they know that Jesus wants us to love others, especially when they need us the most. None of this altered the fact that we had one child who could not get along with ANYONE. Most of all, my baby who was 1 and couldn’t really defend herself was a serious point of contention for one girl; in the end massive issues erupted between them.

I did not expect to be lied to or have the truth withheld from me, if you prefer. Some people feel like you won’t take a child if you know the truth, so they don’t tell you. We have seen this over and over again. How are we supposed to know if we are a good match for a child if we don’t know what kinds of things they need help with? How they are expressing their anger or acting out their abuses of the past is important. This is vital and yet that information is not freely given. In fact, you can’t even pry it out of the hands of those who posess it. You just have to pray, figure it out on your own, and trust God to make it work

I did not expect to be SO BUSY. I’m talking about running from sun up past sundown and falling into bed at night in a daze. I’m talking about emotional drainage and actual brain melting action going on. We had something (or multiple things) going on every single day of the week. Rest? Nah. Down time? Nah. If the kids were in bed, it was time to catch up on paperwork, plan out the following day, and pass out. How is this modeling a real life to these kids? I’m not sure. Other kids their age do not have two therapists, visits that take up a whole day once or twice a week, support group meetings, CPS/attorney visits and CFT meetings. All that plus school, homework, and a regular bedtime? Time with friends? Forget it. Extra curricular activities? Not a chance. Not to mention the fact that I have to drag three kids 5 and under to everything. Want to hear the kicker? In the middle of all this, my husband and I managed to get pregnant. How is that for irony? So, madness on top of pregnancy madness. Hello, world that feels like an insane asylum.

Rosy ideals of being a foster parent? Tossed out with yesterday’s garbage. Today, we are in the thick of a new set of girls that have been here for three weeks so far. Yes, after all that, we signed up for another go ’round. Why? Because I know God has called us to this. Am I pleased? No. I don’t want God to teach me how to be long-suffering, I just want my rosy picture back. I want hard, but not painfully hard. I want to feel like my life is my own again, not like I belong to every other person who feels like jerking me one way or another. I want to fall into bed tired, but I want to have a little energy left for my marriage. I am tired. I don’t want to hear how much I am hated and how everything I have worked so hard to build up for our family “sucks”. I know I’m whining, but seriously, I want to do God’s will, but I also want peace and rest in my own home.

You know what comforts me? Even Jesus did not want to suffer.

“And He withdraw from them about a stone’s throw and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but always Yours be done.” Luke 22:41-42

We all know how well that worked out. Sometimes, God calls us to do the really, really hard stuff. I will not give up, and I will trust Him. That doesn’t mean this is easy. And lately, my encouragement looks more like this: If you know God has called you to something, you should do that…and then trust that He knows what He’s doing. No matter how crazy people may think you are, you and God both know that this is exactly where you are supposed to be.

But, it may not be easy.

This post was originally “penned” in 2013 and is a part of the ongoing, monumental task of moving over an entire blog. Thanks for reading!


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