A love letter to my future foster child. But first, let’s see… who do you think comes out the biggest loser here? Allow me to break it down from what I’ve learned through all of this training…
As a FOSTER PARENT you stand to experience loss in some or all of these areas:
- Schedule / Routine
- Time w/ your current children
- Control of influence on current children
- Time with family & friends
- Relationships as you currently know them
- Diet / Meal preferences
- All preferences
- Physical Energy
- Emotional Energy
And of course, the foster child attachment if/when she returns home
The BIRTH PARENTS will suffer some or all of these losses (remember this, don’t judge, they’re only human and they will experience loss too):
- Self Esteem
- Financial Assistance
- Children – perhaps the one thing they thought they did right in life (by keeping them)
As for losses the FOSTER CHILD will suffer…
step into her shoes… This is you:
Start with your NAME… your identity.
Then add the following:
The person or people that have taken care of you or raised you
Something that you enjoy being a part of
Your title or job
1 positive characteristic about yourself
1 Hobby you enjoy
1 item that’s most important to you
and 1 thing you believe in above all else
Now imagine the person you love the most is taken away… Far away.
Along with that your identity – everything else you value is taken away: all of the people you know – family, siblings, friends, teachers, neighbors, everything you are a part of as well as your favorite possessions, and you are removed completely from where you live, your home, and your own life as you know it.
(If you don’t have a faith you believe in, you may be stripped completely and back to the 1st stick figure)
Perhaps all your sticky notes are taken ALL at once. Without any warning.
What then? What keeps you going on? What do you have that keeps your desire for living at all?
Now. Imagine you’re 7 years old.
A FOSTER CHILD will go through some or all of these stages, typically more than once:
All of which will be displayed in a number of ways and mostly directed toward YOU, the Foster Parent. For example, even though she’s not angry at you, she may exhibit anger toward you as she learns to cope.
Although we discussed the birth family, kinship, and adoptive families as well, I realized something tonight…
The FOSTER CHILD experiences the most loss.
While that may just be my opinion, it seems all of the other players can go on.
But even at the point of understanding and coping, when things would start get better for an adoptive child settling in to a new life, the foster child will still be forced to live day by disappointing day in the darkness of that which is an open ended season of… waiting… living with shreds of hope in a situation they have no absolutely no control in.
“Will today be the day I go home?”
“Will today be the day my mommy gets better? Will today be the day she chooses me, and comes back for me?”
As I learn, and boy am I learning, I am realizing just how tough this could be. Fostering a child has the potential to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done – and I’ve done some hard things.
We were informed that as foster parents, we have signed up to become “Loss Managers” for the child. Wow. What a term.
I have struggled with the thought of losing my lifestyle, time alone with Jacey, relationships as I know them, privacy, and the freedom of doing what I want, when I want, with who I want. But those thoughts fade when I envision the lost confused eyes of a precious child waiting and waiting with fading glimmers of hope, needing only and simply what EVERY child has a right to: to be taken care of & loved appropriately. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’ll learn. Because the cost and loss I bear are but pennies in comparison.
…Among this company of losers, I am the least of these.
A friend sent me a message recently. One of the things she said has stuck with me.
“The need love, and they will suck it out of you, but may rarely return it.”
I continue to learn more and more how much harder it will be than I realize, and though it breaks my heart, I only want to do it all the more.
God, This is YOUR child.
Prepare me as well as Jacey in every way. You direct the timing, You equip me to do this WELL. Pour through me Your very self.
And be with her now. You know her name. Protect her in the waiting and prepare her heart too.
In Jesus’ name.
Dear future foster child,
Suck the love out of me. Drain me if that’s what you need.
Because I have it to give… plenty of yellow sticky notes – stacks of every color…
and I know it won’t be easy for you to take them from me – you may fight me tooth and nail. But I’m not going anywhere.
I will love you.
When your parents aren’t capable of meeting your needs, I will be the best damn substitute that I can, until they can.
When you need time and space, take as much as you need. I will be patient.
And when you’re ready, I will hug you tight.
When you feel invisible to the world, I will bear witness to your life.
When noone else will tell you your worth, I will remind you every day.
When you can’t trust, can’t cope, can’t speak, and when it’s hard to even breathe or believe, I’ll hold you.
I will love you.
I already do.