We often talk about how our “littles” slipped right into our family as if they belonged here from the start. Our older boys took just moments to learn how to be big brothers to itty-bitties, and for us, parenting babies came back as easily as if we’d never left that stage. It’s true that it FEELS like that, and it WAS in many ways, but the reality is, there were some hard times too, and there will be more.
Even as I allow my mind to drift back to the hard parts, I do so with the understanding that our first foster placement was a cake walk compared to the heart-wrenching, volatile situations many foster families encounter. We know that so many of our friends have seen RAD, ODD, extreme anxiety, medical complications, severe delays, and the list goes on and on. We get that, in comparison, our situation was easy. It’s just that even easy – in the world of foster care…still isn’t really easy.
It’s not easy to teach a child to love and trust us when the foundation for such essential responses hasn’t been laid.
It’s not easy to balance correcting a defiant child with gently consoling a child who has anger within his heart that he is too young to comprehend.
It’s not easy to have mere hours to arrange child care before a new child arrives, or to stay up in the night with an infant – yet have to put in a full day’s work without the privilege of maternity leave.
It’s not easy to hear people make comments that are hurtful or judgmental of us or our children, regardless of their intentions.
It’s not easy to hold an inconsolable baby in the night wondering what part of her past might be contributing to her unsettled heart.
It’s not easy to share children with the offending parents while having basically NO rights of our own in the process. It’s not easy to love said parents as we learn more and more of their circumstances. (Praise the Lord, His Grace covers it all – even the hard stuff.) It’s not easy to figure out when to speak up and when to remain silent, and it’s not easy to drop everything for visits, meetings, court dates, etc and to feel the need to smile and shrug it off as “no problem.” It’s not easy to see the tension build before a visit and the attitude shift afterward for a little one who doesn’t have the vocabulary to match the confusion. It’s not easy to let go of a child I’ve committed to love and care for as my own…so that they can join whomever has a “right” to see them.
It’s not easy to be faced with pointed questions we’re not supposed to answer or with disdain and judgement of the biological parents we are striving to love.
It’s not easy to live day to day knowing that at any moment, we could lose them…because they are not ours to keep.
It’s not easy to wait for permission for little things like haircuts, babysitters, and traveling out of state.
It’s not easy to experience rejection in any form from children who so greatly need what we desire to give them.
It’s not easy to be a foster parent.
This list was difficult to make because how can I write only a portion of a list that really goes on and on and on? HOW could we possibly be so passionate about encouraging others to foster if it’s so hard?
The answer is simple: it’s not easy to be a child in foster care.
So what can I do to help?