I got an assignment a while back from our foster agency to do a post a day for a week on their Facebook page. I decided to post it here for you to see what a typical week as a foster-to-adopt family.
FOSTER FAMILY: WEEK IN THE LIFE.
Day 1: Like The Beach
There is nothing better than the ocean to remind you of how powerless you really are. You can yell at the waves to stop crashing until you’re blue in the face but they will keep going, unfazed by your desires. You can arm yourself with swim lessons, life vests and all the organic cruelty-free sunblock in the world, but that doesn’t mean the tide will go your way. This is how the Foster Care System works.
I can do every training seminar, keep meticulous track of every piece of paperwork I’m handed (I swear to God it’s in the thousands), make sure to never miss an appointment and yet the Foster Care System is still gonna to do what the Foster Care System’s gonna do.
And that’s a gigantic pill to swallow, one that most people (including me most days) just can’t quite accept. But today we got to let that all go.
My three little girls and I got to eat mangos, jump in the salty ocean waves, and get sand in our trunks. We got to forget about the social workers, the court dates, the therapy, and most importantly the fact that this might all go away. Instead, we just got to be us, a mama and her three babies having an absolutely beautiful day at the beach.
Day 2: Three Under Three
Today was a typical day with three kids under three. My husband had to work so I took the girls to Little Lady’s soccer practice where I spent most of my time pulling grass out of my little ones’ mouths. In fact, most of my day is spent fishing something out of their mouths. I should have my dental hygienist license by now.
After that, we walked to the park and I fought to keep my eyes on the girls while they literally ran (and crawled) in three different directions.
A put-together-woman with only one baby gave me a sideways look. This happens a lot. I like to pretend it’s because we’re celebrities and not because I look like a disheveled crazy person with way too many children.
A friend came and we spent some time with her before I put everyone down for their naps and then cleaned my apartment like my life depended on it. We had a record eight loads of laundry pile up in five days. After dinner and some playtime, Daddy finally got home and let me sit down while he changed everyone and put them in their jammies.
It feels so foreign to sit down now, something I used to just do anytime I felt like it. But if I’m being totally honest my whole life is foreign to me now. GOOD foreign, but definitely foreign.
Day 3: Attachment
I was on my own again today so I did morning potty training, got the babies dressed, packed them in the minivan and headed to my Little Lady’s school.
When I got there, I signed her in and noticed she was still standing behind me. Usually, she jets off to play with her friends. As I headed towards the door she literally burst into tears and screamed,“Mommy” like I was leaving her in the middle of a busy freeway. I held her and tried to convince her it would be a lot more fun at school than watching me clean and take care of the babies, but she wouldn’t take the bait. I tried sitting in class with her and bribing her with stickers but for an hour she wouldn’t stop screaming that she wanted to come back home and be with me.
I am a don’t-skip-class-no-matter
So even though it was upsetting for her and I could tell the teachers thought I was being one of those wimpy does-anything-her toddler-wants types, I took my three babies and hightailed it out of there. My daughter was yelling for me and my heart was swelling.
Day 4: Firsts
Today the girls had swim lessons.
Little Lady has been taking them for about a month but this was the first for Teeny and Sunshine. They basically spent the whole time screaming and trying to get out of the pool and away from their poor instructor. She had to be twenty at the oldest and she looked like she was about to jump off a very steep cliff.
Today’s swim lesson was another first that I got to have with the girls. I’ve had them both from a very young age so: first food, first crawls, the first step, the first word. And I feel so honored to witness all of it. We will be the holders of their history. It’s something people who have stayed with their biological family their whole lives never think twice about. I take for granted the fact that I can turn to my parents any day of the week and ask them what I was like as a baby or what my first word was, but for a lot of kids in the Foster Care System, these are questions they may never know the answer to.
So even though it absolutely rips me apart inside to think of them ever leaving us, if they do, and they come back wanting to know about themselves, I will have it all saved for them. And I can’t wait to tell them about the time they made the swim instructor decide she is not ready to have kids.
Day 5: I Love Daddy
I was on set today for a job so my hubby took over. I tried to convince him to write the blog post but he was too exhausted from the day. He said, “I don’t know what to talk about, you’re the writer, can I say something about Peppa Pig?” And then he fell asleep.
So I’ll just say this, I don’t know what I would do without my husband, who has turned into the most wonderful, loving, reliable daddy in the world. Having a van full of kids was always my dream. (His dream, before we met, was to live alone in the woods and contemplate the universe by himself.) But that all changed when we met, and changed, even more, when he met these babies. He’s now an Itsy Bitsy Spider singing, nasty diaper changing, getting them all in bed by eight, Daddy of the year.
And he believes in what we’re doing as foster parents with all his heart. He’s put a lot aside to go on this journey with me and I’m so grateful for that. It’s a journey that’s painful beyond measure and more joyful than we ever thought possible and we’ve never been closer because of it. Oh, and he really likes Peppa Pig.
Day 6: Visitation Day
Today was visitation day for Sunshine.
(To respect the anonymity of my foster daughter and her mother I will keep to my general thoughts and not the details of the actual visit.)
To say it’s always easy would be a lie. You need to be a monitor, a friend, a co-parent, a supporter and a reporter. It can be one of the most awkward things a foster parent will ever have to do. And after most visits, good or bad, I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck.
We are so lucky to have a great relationship with bio-mom. It’s one we built on treating her with respect. Something she doesn’t always get a lot of. She appreciates that. She tells us she’s beyond blessed to have us. And she has blessed us too because she’s made this beautiful, funny, smart girl we’ve spent the last 12 months raising. We can’t help but feel almost like family.
But we aren’t family, and in a lot of ways, during the visits, we are doing a job. We need to set a lot of boundaries and limits. And sometimes mom gets really pissed at us for setting them. And sometimes she gets very picky about what I have and don’t have in my diaper bag. And I feel imperfect and like she’s looking for reasons to call me a bad parent.
But most of the time we really do get along. And sometimes we make her laugh so hard she can’t breathe. Like today, when I showed her a video of my husband dancing to Pen Pineapple Apple Pen. Which is pretty, pretty incredible.
Day 7: A Letter To My Foster Daughters
I will be here for you, forever. When I signed your foster placement papers, that was my promise. And even if, one day, you won’t know me anymore, I will always know you. And if you ever need me I will be here waiting to stand up and fight for you. And when you grow up I will be in the front row of your graduation, your wedding, the day your babies are born, your presidential inauguration, even if I’m not invited. And I’m right here if times get rough. I will take you in my rocking chair and hold you and sing our song softly in your teenage ear, reminding you that everything’s gonna be okay. You are wanted. You are loved.
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If you are curious to see if adopting through foster care is right for you: IFavela@5acres.org (Mention this blog.)