Kids are fun …. Right? Well I don’t think fostering will be. Here’s why.
Home inspections. Part of being licensed to be able to provide foster care is having a home study. This includes interviews, references, and a very thorough study of your home. They are going to open our closets and take pictures. They are fairly clean and tidy but just the thought of it makes me feel so exposed! We will have quarterly inspections with CYFS after that, and we could have a drop-in visit at ANY time, day or night, from the social worker. Its pretty intimidating. When I’m going around in my old worn out pyjamas and a stained up shirt with my hair sticking out all over the place … that would be just the time a social worker will show up here.
Then there’s the paperwork. Along with all of the paperwork that is required for us to complete during this licensing process, there is also an endless pile of papers that need to be filled out for every child, monthly papers that keep track of the goals and progress of each child that comes into our care, at least a page for every meeting and visitations with the parents, and I’m sure there is more that I don’t even know about yet. Keeping all of it organized and ready to be handed over to the social worker at any given time is going to be hard.
Mind you, this is all just the things I am starting to learn. I haven’t actually experienced any of it yet. If everything goes as planned then by Christmas, about 3 months away, it will all be official and my door will be opened to some very hurt children. As overwhelming as it all is, I am beyond excited to be experiencing this. But not only excited, I feel blessed beyond words to be given the opportunity to become a part of the lives of children who deserve to be safe and cared for properly.
But there is also going to be a lot of uncertainty. It will be hard not to know whether we will be caring for a child for a week or a year or maybe even forever. Schedules change depending on visitation with the parent(s), so planning anything will be pointless. Our lives will be extremely unpredictable. I think the hardest thing though will be not being able to answer our foster child when he/she asks what’s going to happen to them, because I honestly won’t know.
I’m setting myself up for a lot of heartbreak. Each story in foster care starts with trauma. The goal is to provide safety and time for these families to mend. When that happens, it will be a beautiful thing – but even the most experienced foster parents’ experience heartache when a child leaves. When these families can’t be mended, and even if there are great people waiting to adopt, there is going to be an outrageous loss. When there are no adoptive parents waiting, its going to hurt even more. Watching the foster children grow and knowing the pain of their past breaks my heart – and I haven’t even had our first child placement yet!. Knowing that there are so many birth families hurting actually hurts me. Foster care is as much about heartbreak as it is about anything else, for everyone involved.
Its going to be REALLY hard on us being foster parents. But …….
250,000 children enter foster care each year. Some for a little while, some for way too long. And each one is a reason why foster care is going to be worth it. Every single child is in need of love and fun and a safe place to call home. But I keep thinking to myself that as hard as it will be for us as the foster parents, it will be nothing compared to what the kids will be going through. Removal is traumatic. No matter how good we will be as foster parents, being placed in a home with us strangers is scary. Living with the result of abuse or neglect is not fair. None of the work that we are putting in to become licensed as foster parents can even compare.
So as scared as I am about what David and I are getting ourselves into, I know that all of the work we invest in this is because there is a very scared child somewhere, waiting to come into our home so that they can be safe, fed, loved and most importantly, be given the chance to be a kid again.