For the mom who is genuinely confused about how many kids I have:
There are three.
We are still hoping to grow our family through foster to adopt. Ideally with a kiddo from the two or under crowd. That’s kind of our sweet spot and where we know we can offer a physically and emotionally safe environment for current and incoming kids.
Meanwhile, we wait.
While we wait, we offer respite care for other foster families in the thick of it.
I say thick of it because parenting is hard. Parenting foster kids who may or may not want to be with you and have a train-load of trauma is extra hard. Parenting a mix of bio kids and foster kids together is a whole other level that can only be understood by those who live it: words simply can’t imbue the experience.
Recently our family hosted five kids within three weeks and we jumped onto that elliptical of learning curves that happens every time you venture into a difficult arena. At the end, it was an affirmation that we want to do this and we can do this.
For the mom who said she isn’t emotionally strong enough.
Previously daunting things become normalized. For instance, I am capable of meeting birth parents. That felt scary before. When trading kids after visitation in a fast-food parking lot, we are, in fact, standing on the same ground. There is no more “us vs. them”. There is only an us together for these kids.
I am not “stronger” than you, more “ready” than you, more “figured out” than you. This is something our family values. We simply said yes. Clearly it hasn’t all been worked out yet and has only been an uphill journey. We are confident that fostering and adoption is worth it. What a greater privilege than offering life and hope to what was previously void?
For the mom who told me she could never do that [foster care] to her real kids:
I’m going to skip over that “real kids” part for now.
I get it. It’s scary. I would be lying if I said we never signed off from a day hard-drawn asking if our children will spend their adult years in therapy overcoming these years of childhood.
No, our bio kids don’t always like every minute. Let’s remember that no one in this family actually likes each other every minute. We don’t shy away from doing something because some parts look hard.
Here’s the worth-it news. Our bio kids actively learn compassion. It is not a stale Bible story or an abstract idea. It’s making silly faces at the baby to entice a laugh because giggles are healing. It’s fetching a sippy of milk for the toddler because food means safety. It’s moments when their specific personalities are highlighted and utilized to meet the need of another child sharing in their home.
Our kids have to wait sometimes and be late sometimes. It is not always their way, their choice, their moment. When did this become a bad thing? That’s just called being a part of a family and being ready to grow into a socially responsible human in relationship with others.
For the mom who calls me superwoman and for the other mom who thinks I’m a frazzled spaz-case:
Yes. You are both correct.
It is true that I have a high-capacity for life, however there is no time for me to be fake with you. Adding kids into the mix means simplifying and shaking off non-essential commitments. There is not space for doing it all, people-pleasing, or perception campaigning. I have a much more resolute “no” to peripheral requests because the importance to create space for this “yes” is bigger.
Respite & foster care for our family makes a very real physical and metaphorical mess. Each mess creates an opportunity to see traits of generosity and kindness in our bio kids, an invitation for me to remain close to the vein of God’s heart, as well as an opportunity to continue healing for the foster kids.
It is shaking it all down, and knowing God’s loving compassion and fierce resilience is holding it all up.