I Could Never

I Could Never
Posted on 06/18/2018

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“I could never be a foster parent. It would be too hard, I would get too attached, but obviously you…”

As the old adage goes, if I had a nickel for every time I heard that phrase, I’d be a wealthy woman. It’s fascinating the responses that the topic of foster care brings out in people. Most well-meaning individuals have an expression of awe, followed immediately by a reason why they could never do it, and an implication that I am somehow extraordinary for giving my time and energy to children in need.

The truth, I rarely confess to, while basking in the glow of admiration, is this. Foster care for infants has moments of great accomplishment, but mostly it is just the action of practical love that is disguised as endless laundry, dirty diapers, sticky fingers, runny noses, hugs and kisses, crumbs on the floor, sleepless nights, repeated meal preparation, bath times, toothpaste on the mirror, Cheerios in the car, doctors’ appointments, Tylenol, coffee, formula, bottles, mornings before dawn and bedtimes well after sunset and, of course, the oft asked question of, “How long are they with you?” to which a simple shrug of the shoulders and an unsure smile must suffice as an answer.

Yes, there is the knowledge of occasional court dates, regular visits from social workers, drives to and from access visits with biological family, but mostly it’s “wash, rinse and repeat.” So, really, foster care just looks a lot like parenthood.

Sometimes I get asked how I deal with the “damaged psyches, the emotional trauma, and the feelings of loss.” After contemplating for a while I realized that I do the laundry, wash the dishes, change the diapers, wipe the fingers and day dream about 12 uninterrupted hours of sleep. Then I cook another meal, squeeze another hand and prepare another round of bottles. I “deal with it” by living love one day at a time and little by little the healing happens. Sometimes without anyone really noticing. All of sudden something is different, the atmosphere has shifted. The change is subtle, but it’s there.

Healing happened while I was busy meeting the hour by hour, day by day needs of my child in care. So don’t be fooled by the idea that I am exceptional for being a foster care provider. I am simply willing to meet the everyday needs of a child, in hopes that the ordinary will inspire the extraordinary.

Betsy is a full-time mother, foster care provider and operator of a home daycare. She believes that life is a story and all stories are enhanced by the presence of others.

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