Thursday, April 4, 2013
What foster parenting means to me...(got a new perspective)
I am still a foster parent...at least, this nagging feeling I am having would suggest that I am(even though we "closed" our house to further placements after the adoption in November, we are still technically licensed through June 2014). There is a BIG part of me that wishes that there were some way to open my home back up to taking kids right now(yes, really). But, we are trying to follow the "don't take kids who are older than your youngest child" rule...there are various reasons for this rule...and while I have seen it work out for some folks to take a child older than their youngest kid...at the same time, I have seen *great* damage done in situations where this happened. I'm not willing to take the risk where my babies are concerned...so, I wait. Because the only other option would be to take another 16 month old and, contrary to popular opinion, I am not actually insane(ok, fine, there is room for argument, I'm just saying)!
When we first started all of this, foster care was something I wanted to avoid...like the plague, and, not just a little! And, once we got going...I (if I am being honest) saw it as a means to an end. Adoption. I never expected to feel this way about being a foster parent. Honestly, part of me still doesn't get *why* I feel this way. I hate the system. I don't trust it...I don't believe it works. I've seen so much damage and pain. I could NOT wait to be done dealing with it before we adopted the kids, and I was SO relieved to be done with it after we did. And, yet...here I am.
I've been doing some praying on that...but, a conversation that I had recently with a new cyber friend Tisza, opened up a whole new way to look at this...she said something to me that I had not previously considered...
"But then isn't that the very essence of the foster parent? A loving, kind generous soul who willingly heads into the emotional equivalent of a burning building time and time again to save those they can. All the while knowing full well that they themselves can and will be hurt in the process. But who does it anyway because it needs to be done"
That, right there, changed things for me...I can not get it out of my head. She is absolutely right...after reading that, I really had to rethink my stance. I have railed against the system...I have shaken my head in wonder at foster parents who take kids in, time and time again, knowing they will probably be burned, again. Because, even if the kid eventually exits the system(burning building) it's not always in the best possible way. There is always the potential for permanent injury to everyone involved as a result of having been in the system to begin with...but, you know, fire fighters don't have any reason to think that once the flames are out and the people are safe, there will never be another fire to put out...or another burning building to enter. That *really* struck a chord with me. It is a completely new perspective on foster parenting that *I* personally have not ever grasped before now. If I look at the system as a burning building(and trust me, I do not know a single foster parent who would not strongly relate to that comparison, they may chuckle, they may cry...but, none would argue) and I were to look at taking kids in as running into a burning building and putting an oxygen mask on them, using equipment to keep them safe while working to get them out...that changes everything.
Notice I did not say that I would look at taking kids as getting them out of the building...not true, so long as they are in the system; their world is on fire. It's just reality. The only way that kid is coming *out* alive is if they are *successfully* reunified with healthy family, OR if they are adopted into a new forever family. Again, either way, there is serious risk of permanent injury, whether to their emotional lungs or their brain due to smoke inhalation(ie. damaging visits with parents, attachment trauma from bouncing around, home to home, all of which exacerbate the issues caused by the abuse or neglect that landed them in the system in the first place).
Thing is, the primary concern of a fire fighter is to keep that person alive and as safe as possible while IN the building. Once they have them out, their job is done...over. They usually just leave them in the hands of the EMT's(ie family, whether by blood or adoption) and walk away.
So, while I may not know what God's plans are for our family in the long run...and I may not be in a position to run back into that burning building just yet...I have a whole new way of looking at this, that might explain my feelings recently. Perhaps I am called to be a Firefighter...er...Foster Parent. Definitely food for thought.