This is another phrase we have heard several times since we made the decision to pursue foster care:
I could never be a foster parent.
As with my other posts here and here about some responses and phrases we hear, it is with no hard feelings that I write this one now. Really just a bit of explanation, and in this case, a challenge. The thing is, I used to be very solidly in the "I could never be a foster parent" camp. About this time last year, I sat at Starbucks talking to a young lady who was at the beginning of an international adoption journey with her husband. We sat there over our lattes, discussing the various ways to adoption and mutually agreed that that scary foster care realm was an area that needed so much help but...that just wasn't for us. That was just too much.
...Funny how things change. Funny how asking, seeking and answering can lead you full circle and plop you directly into what you said you wouldn't ever do...
Let's break this down a bit. There is usually a follow up phrase to the one above. It seems like most folks feel the need to tack on further explanation for why they "could never be a foster parent." Here are some common ones along with my thoughts.
"I would be scared of falling in love with the kids."
This one kind of makes me giggle a bit inside because...it is our job to fall in love with these kids. If we have children placed with us who end up being able to go back home or go to a relative and we haven't fallen in love with them and haven't cared for them as if they were our own flesh and blood and our hearts aren't broken to pieces when they leave us...then we have failed. We aren't supposed to be scared of falling in love with them, as if that is a forbidden feeling written into the foster parent training: Don't fall in love with the kids because they won't be with you forever. On the contrary, we are supposed to dive headfirst into loving on these kids whether it looks like they will be with us for a few days, a few months, or the rest of their life.
"There are so many unknowns."
So, so true. You don't know what the children will be like, if they will have struggles with behavior or learning or health. You don't know if they will be with you forever or only a short time. The list goes on. But for a moment I want you to think of a parent giving birth to a biological child. While there are indeed some pretty solid knowns in that scenario (race, age...), aren't there plenty of these same unknowns? If someone gives birth to their child, they don't know what their child will be like. They don't know if their child will have struggles with behavior or learning or health. And they don't know if their child will be with them forever or only a short time, because honestly, life can be cut short in the blink of an eye. Life is full of unknowns, people. As much as you may want to be in control or think that you can be...you're not.
"It would just be so hard."
Folks, we were given a ticket to a glorious and easy life but we left that ticket torn to pieces on the lush ground of the Garden of Eden. Since then, a lot of people have been on a pursuit to bring the easy back into their life and make sure that that's all they've got. All easy, no hard. But...if you don't have any hard in your life, if you can cruise along with loving people around you, a nice roof over your head and money in the bank, if your main concerns are manicuring your lawn and maintaining your 401k, if you are living in your little bubble of easy...you've got a lot of capacity to pay attention to some of the hard around you. I bet you wouldn't have to look hard to find it either. Here is my challenge and question for you: Are you blindly running from the hard in a ceaseless effort to preserve and improve your bubble of easy? Are you ignoring the hard around you, the poverty, the hunger, the injustice, the children who just need a loving home during possibly the hardest time of their life? We've got lots and lots of easy in our life. How about we help others by making a little room for something hard?