I write this blog with two goals in mind – to allow you to vicariously join us on this emotionally-charged journey and to inform you of the inner workings of the foster process. My posts until now have been completely narrative. As to be expected, there is emotion bubbling over in these first weeks and nearly everyday provides fodder for a post. However, I find that there are a few “hot topics” in foster care that people ask me about again and again. Those include the legal timeline, training and licensing, parent visitation, etc. Foster parents are deluged with friends, coworkers, new acquaintances, the check out lady at Costco, etc. who want to know more. While I’m no expert (well, unless the topic is when to call CPS from the ER), I will take opportunities to inform you, as best I can, about the foster process. Keep reading to the end, and you’ll hear my thoughts digress back to the emotions of the process.
I wasn’t surprised by the no-show. I was surprised by how agregious the offense felt when it was towards my foster child, the child that has been entrusted to me to care for and protect these past two weeks. I generally feel empathy for parents that end up having their children placed in the custody of CPS – I recognize that there are grave circumstances out there, including drug addiction, dealing with past physical and sexual abuse, mental illness, the stresses of extreme poverty, etc. that I, by God’s grace, have never had to face. And often, I can look compassionately at parents who find themselves in these predicaments, and know, “there, but for the grace of God, go I.” But when the total amount of time you have spent with your child in their lifetime can be measured in hours, rather than days, and you have one hour or so a month to spend with them, how can you not come? How can you not make that the most important thing you have to do, ever? How can you not treat it as if it’s the most important meeting of your life? How, can you stand your child up, for the one date you have with them in a month? I’ve uncovered a discompassionate piece of my heart in this. And I know I have it easy on this one. My little people left the DFPS building with no more than the thought that we went on a drive, stopped and fed baby boy, and left again. Only Leah left questioning, “wait a minute, aren’t they going to go with their parent?” Some foster parents have the disheartening task of taking their school-aged child to a long-awaited parental visit, only to then see and deal with the disappointment in their child’s eyes when bio mom/dad don’t show up. Oh, heartwrenching.
I left the DFPS office, pensive. I didn’t care in the least about the 40 minute drive, gas spent, time taken out of my day, etc. This job comes with inconveniences and we have cleared our schedule as best we can to make room for unpredictable inconvenience. Expecting that makes it doable. What I left caring about, was the beautiful little children in my car, who I had made sure looked so cute that morning, and who I had fed early so they wouldn’t be cranky or sleeping, and who may someday have to hear from me that bio parent just didn’t show up.
Almost home, I stopped at the gas station. While standing alone outside the car, I looked down at my shirt and pulled the DFPS visitor sticker off to throw away. At second glance, I thought better of it, and stuck it to a McDonald’s napkin to save as a keepsake. A reminder to me of the new emotion I felt that day towards these children – the protective mama bear, who can feel the thick fur raising on her back, when someone wrongs her foster children.