Foster care is probably one of the most unnatural things you can do. You love a child with all your heart and you give them away. I don’t think we were ever meant to lose a child, no matter what way you lose them. Of course, this is a situation I chose to put myself into, not really knowing how big the risk of a broken heart would be. Now, knowing how much I can love a “temporary” child, knowing how much it will hurt when I say goodbye, would I do it again? In a second.
Part of foster care is family reunification…actually it’s a big part of it. The birth parent will start with shorter, monitored visits and as time goes on and it looks like they are making progress, the visits will get longer. Eventually they will be unsupervised. Then they will be overnight and eventually they will have weekends. Sometimes my protective foster mama claws come out and I don’t want to see more visits happening but then I have to remind myself that reunification is the goal and birth parents need to show that they are capable of raising their children. Natural instinct is to keep your child away from things that could potentially hurt them but with foster care, you have to think quite the opposite. This is the best scenario I can think of…
There is a tub of water and you have to put your child in it. You don’t know if it is freezing cold, luke warm, just right, hot or boiling. There is a chance your child could be fine… maybe even enjoy being in the tub. There is a chance it might be so cold, they want to jump out, but really, they are fine… they just need to get used to the water. It could be so hot, it burns their entire body leaving permanent scars. Or, worst of all, it could be boiling, leaving burns so bad your child doesn’t make it through the night. Human instinct is to not put your child in the tub because why would you want to risk serious injury or death? But, as a foster parent, it’s what I have to do. Slight burns are what help show the social workers if the birth parent is ready or not. Sometimes social workers listen, sometimes they don’t. But they literally need to test the waters with birth parents. If they don’t, there is no way to know if they reach the minimal parenting standards they need to reach to get their child back.
Everyday I learn something new about foster care which inevitably teaches me something about myself and how much further my heart can be pushed than I ever thought. If you have ever said to me “I don’t know how you do it” please know that I don’t either. I’m not some super human who can perfectly love a child and give them away… or even love a broken person all the time. It’s a constant journey. I journey where I know I need God. I need to know He is here, he is watching over Sunshine and ultimately He has a plan. I have had moments of complete peace in the most hectic times that are humanly unexplainable. It’s an overwhelming feeling knowing that God really is here.