I write a lot of blogs in my head. I have addressed all sorts of issues, berated many frustrating individuals and solved most of the world’s problems through my blogs over the last few months. Unfortunately, by the time the kids are in bed and the laundry is going and my homework is done and Facebook is checked, it seems like my fingers are just too tired to tap the keyboard. So, most of my rants haven’t made it to the here. Come to think of it, that may be a good thing. Anyway, here’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a few weeks now and actually managed to get typed. I would like to say that there is more on the way but I hate to get you all excited and then leave you hanging for another 3 months. So, without further ado, here is my humble opinion on a common foster care myth.
When I was a kid, I spent hundreds of hours watching The 3 Stooges with my dad and brothers. So, I was excited about the movie and went to see it with them, Hubby and Captain (our bio 6 year old son) a few weeks ago. The movie was full of cheesy, slapstick comedy but I think the funniest thing was watching Captain doubled over, laughing in his seat at Larry and Curly getting poked in the eyes. Anyway, I’m not here to do movie reviews, there is a point. I promise. The movie is set in a children’s home and has a lot of negative comments about foster care and adoption. I’m not the type to crusade against every movie that gets their facts wrong but there’s one comment that just stuck with me. A little girl was told that she would be going from the group home to a foster family and yelled the she refused to go to a home where they were paid to love her.
Here’s the thing, foster parents DO NOT get paid to love our kids. We get paid to feed them and clothe them and be a stable force in their unstable lives. And, when I say we get paid I don’t mean that we make money. In some states, foster parents get as little as $300 a month to care for our charges. (Luckily Texas is higher because I spend more than that on gas in a month going to visits.) We’re asked to do a lot for those few dollars but we are never asked to love these children and really, if we were smart, we wouldn’t. Opening up your heart and loving one of these kids means that it just might get ripped out when someone who doesn’t seem to care shows up for two visits and an overworked caseworker decides they can have our baby. Loving one of these children means taking off your rose colored glasses and getting down on their level and seeing the world in a way that will change your forever. It means holding them while they hit, kick and bite you because you know that they need to know you aren’t going to leave when they implode.
It is not easy or comfortable or required that we love our foster kids. But, a lot of us tend to think that these kids deserve someone who is willing to cry with them and for them. I believe with all my heart that my babies should have at least one person in their life that would miss them if they left. In the ideal world, that would have been their parents and they wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with. That world doesn’t exist for these guys though so foster parents are the next best thing. It’s not that we have this amazing superpower to unconditionally love every child that comes through our doors. Some are easier than others and some don’t stay long enough for us to really develop any true bond with. In spite of that, regular people from all over America get up every day and open our hearts to children who desperately need a mommy or daddy’s love. That isn’t because that is what we are paid to do. It is because that's what we are called do. There’s a big difference there.