Until now we have had mostly girls. Cute, funny, smart, sweet, clothes loving, shoes loving, pink loving girls. I’ll confess, I love having girls. I love pink and cute clothes and American Girl dolls. I like singing and dancing, blowing bubbles and coloring. But that is all about to change. We currently are hosting a very active 10 year old boy for a few days of respite care so his foster mom can attend some training for her day job. He is different from the girls. He is different from the little and not so little boys I have in my life. He is extremely hyper-active. Like on mucho medication three times a day to keep him at a somewhat normal state and that normal state is still bouncing off the walls. Our mantra currently is, “three days, three days, we can do three days.” God bless his regular foster family. He is a sweet kid but with the attention span of a gnat.
Next week we agreed to take placement for an 11 year old boy. I know very little about him and since he came into care on an emergency basis just this week, DFCS really doesn’t know much about him yet either. So boys it will be. I packed up all the play dishes and dolls. Changed the sheets on the bed from soft floral to plaid. I’m hunting now for a summer camp program for an eleven year old. Tim’s looking forward sharing his love of fishing and we will be checking out sports programs. We already know we love soccer for “our” kids. So yeah, lots to do and not much time to get it done.
We are planning to move in the next 90 days or so. Due to a really bad deal, we can’t buy a house. No way, no how. At least until we no longer have a huge Canterbury liability on our balance sheet. So we are looking for a house to rent. And we want a big house with lots of bedrooms and extra living spaces so we can take more kids and have space for us to breathe and chill as much as we can with a house full of trauma impacted kids. I trust that at the right time, the right house will be available and God will provide the means for it to happen.
People ask all the time how we do it. How do we love these kids and let them go. Well that is hard, heart breaking deep sadness kind of hard. But the hardest part is this: the day in day out. It is getting up four times to wrangle a kid back into bed who is super excited to be spending the night in a house with a dog as much fun as Erma. It is calmly repeating over and over again, “go to bed.” After getting them a snack/water/night light. It is dragging a child out of bed each morning and getting them dressed, fed, and to school with a semblance of good cheer and well wishes after only four hours of sleep. It is hearing their stories of multiple foster homes, splits with siblings and homelessness. It is not knowing what you are dealing with from day to day and from outburst to outburst. It is managing your triggers and your outbursts and remaining calm when you really just want to snap. It is getting over the times you don’t manage it all well and lose your cool. I image a lot of it is just like regular parenthood but then there is the added relational issues with birth families and case managers and counselors and attorneys. And the trauma brain stuff that makes these kids behave in survivor mode ALL. THE. TIME. It is hard. It isn’t easy and I couldn’t do it without the love of God flowing through me. It is His grace and His mercy that allows me to suck it up and get up and love the hard to love. It is His eyes that give me vision beyond the behaviors to the pain and the suffering that lead to this place. It is His peace that comes when I am really tired and calms my frustrated heart. It is His hope that brings me to a place of rejoicing the small miracles of finding lost shoes as well as the eventual reunions with families. It is His care that surrounds Tim and me as we struggle with the day to day. And it will be His provision always that will sustain and support us.
Foster care is a calling. It is not for everyone. But if you have ever thought it might be nice to fill that extra bedroom with a kid in need, jump on the bandwagon and join in. There are thousands and thousands of kids in need. The rewards are without measure. They come in a rare thank you from the child you are caring for. In the support from a perfect stranger who offers a stuffed animal to your child in a restaurant and a pat on the back to you because they can tell the child clearly didn’t come from your gene pool. It is in celebrating catching up with milestones that seemed so far away just a few weeks ago. It is in the relationships you form with case managers, bio-mom’s and other foster families that you would never have had. It is the hundreds of pictures you have of beautiful smiling children that remain after the kids have gone home. So do it. Make the call.