In fostering, as I’m sure most people do with whatever drives them, I get myself in a rhythm. A pattern of expectation. I have momentum.
For the past eight months, I’ve been going strong. I’ve felt positive and energized. Slowly though, I think without me even realizing it, I’ve been wearing out along the way.
D was our first placement after Cordelia. I didn’t attach right away, but then I did. And during the eight months he was in our home, I fell madly in love with that boy. And I also realized that he didn’t really belong here. He has a good family. An aunt and uncle and cousins who love and want him. So we said goodbye. He’s doing well. And for that I’m grateful. Still this goodbye has been hard.
Also during the eight months he was with us, we took in an emergency placement. Four days was all. He was a small, glassy-eyed little boy. A fragile little bird of a boy. We only got a glimpse of some of the atrocities and horror this child and his brother had lived. Then we said goodbye. We couldn’t take them both. It was one of the worst cases I’ve personally been in contact with and I think that may be the very first time I really felt the weight of what happens to some of these children. I spent a few days after in a fog. We hear and see hard things. This was one of the worst and it really got to me. It still does when I think about it.
A few other children moved through our home. None for very long. We adopted Simeon. We said goodbye to D. We took in Scrooge. We prepared for his brother. Then brothers. Then we got word that we’re not taking or keeping any of them. Which is fine. Except that Scrooge is still here. I have no idea when he will leave and this is one of the most draining aspects of fostering.
Every single one of us in limbo. The baby, his family, our family. I was rearing and ready to keep going. I was geared up for the boys I had and more to come. I was enthusiastic and even a little excited. But now that this is no longer a need, I’m able to step back and see that perhaps, yes, I do need a break. Except five days after being told I was done with the case, I’m still sitting up at 2 in the morning waiting for this little guy to settle into sleep.
If I don’t have any children besides my son, then I want to play big. I want to focus on him and the holiday. I want to serve others. I want to take some time out just for us. And right now I can’t and it’s this gray area that I feel is wearing me thin.
The all nighters, the diapers, the formula, the bottle washing, the screaming, the medicine… all of that is a joyful part of what I give to this child while I’m in place of a parent that can’t or won’t be for him. Knowing that he’s going any day now, that as far as the court is concerned I’m just a baby sitter ’til the papers are signed, is too much. It’s far too much at 2am.
And you know what’s really crazy? Earlier today, I got a call for two little girls and it took Leo reminding me that we don’t have room, much less the emotional capacity, to care for them right now.
If you’re here and you’re a foster parent, or wanting to become one, take this advice. We must care for ourselves and our families. We cannot take them all. We cannot help them all. And if we are not stepping back every once in a while, we won’t be able to help anyone. I’m more aware of that now than I’ve been thus far in the journey.
And I’m so blessed that I’m partnered with someone as logical and level-headed as Leo is. I’m also thankful that when I need a break, especially when I don’t realize it, providence steps in. Otherwise, I’d have burned myself out a long time ago. Now, I’m ready and willing to rest, just waiting on that paper to be signed…