The Truth About Foster Parents
It’s Foster Care Awareness Month. We’re sharing our personal stories about foster care— the challenges, the joys, and the how-tos. We hope you’ll follow along!
8 months ago, my husband and I rode an elevator in our local hospital up to the NICU. I told him that I thought I might need to stop and throw up in the fake plant that I saw as the doors opened.
We had three kids at the time-- 3-year-old twin boys and a 7-month-old baby girl.
Two days earlier, we'd gotten a phone call from our local DFCS office.
In my experience, these phone calls happen one of two times a day: either in the morning, right after school drop off and in between doctors appointments, or at 9pm on a Friday night. This time, it was in the morning.
There was a baby boy in the NICU, almost ready to be discharged. "Would you be willing to take him home?"
We were crazy to even consider it.
How in the heck could we make this work? How insane could we be? Surely, this is a terrible idea. What will our kids think? How will we manage? What will our friends and family say? HOW CRAZY CAN WE BE!? We are insane.
We walked into the NICU to find one of the tiniest babies I'd ever held. My husband's wedding ring could go up above his knee. I was terrified to feed him, but my husband jumped right in.
A few days later, we brought him home.
I won't sugarcoat it: the first few months were hard. We had 4 kids, 3 and under. Doctors appointments, t-ball practice, preschool, DFCS visits, and the like overwhelmed us. Some days, I thought we might not make it.
But, here we are. That tiny little baby has cheeks for days and is the best yes we ever said. I can't imagine our lives without him.
Here's the thing: foster parents aren't superheroes. They don't have hearts any bigger than the next person. They don't have extra hours in the day or less appointments to attend.
They just say yes.
Among all of the chaos, and the overwhelm, and the day-to-day insanity, they say yes.
They say yes to children who need a home. They say yes to more sleepless nights, parent-teacher conferences, and soccer games. They say yes to meetings, and parent visits, and homestudies, and, sometimes: heartbreak.
They say yes to first steps and first dances and "I love you, toos."
It isn't easy. It's not convenient. Sometimes (oftentimes)-- it's really, really hard.
But they say yes.
There was a time when I thought I couldn't do this whole "foster care" thing. I pushed out every tug at my heart and "sign" that I saw that might lead me in that direction. I told myself that foster parents had something special-- something that I didn't have. But then I realized: they just said yes. And that I could, too.