Yes, looking at you like you have lost your mind—that is what I was doing the other night. Yes, when the person that after all we have been through with the foster care system—the horrid amusement park ride that seems to have no end—says aloud to me and to everyone reading this blog that you could do it again—be a foster parent, yes, you have lost your mind, most definitely. It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote a post blasting the foster care system.
I suppose it was reactionary especially that last part where you said something about how it hadn’t been that bad. That is just plain crazy, the rest though, maybe not so much crazy. If we can at least get to the conclusion, the adoption conclusion with our foster son, then maybe I can go down this path again. I don’t know what will happen if he leaves, I just can’t tell you now what that will mean for this family.
So why would I consider it? You don’t have to go back very far through the posts in this blog before you realize that I have nothing good to say about foster care. Maybe it’s that you get used to the pain or maybe it becomes a part of the experience. How would we know the absolute joy of being with our foster son without having the depth of emotional drama and pain that we experience with the possibility of losing him? Okay maybe that is just my own craziness. For better or worse (I haven’t figured out which), two other couples that we know very well, even after having been with us through the dark times of this experience, have bravely stepped up to the foster care plate. One couple has taken in three kids. I think they are amazing for it. Another has been recently licensed and is awaiting placement. Then you look at the comments from stop me before I think again and there are parents who have lived through the horrors of this system, yet they are considering foster care again. Why are these people going back for more? Why do people venture into these waters knowing full well that there is nothing at all sweet or calm about them?
We all have our pain thresholds. The pain—the open-wound, kick you in the gut, roll on the floor in agony kind of emotion—maybe you just learn to live with it. Perhaps as foster parents we statistically are predisposed to higher pain thresholds. Or maybe we develop a tolerance for higher and higher pain levels as we pass through the emotional rollercoaster of this process. I can honestly say that my tolerance has changed and I am probably better equipped to manage pain than your average “joe” parent. So, we all have this higher tolerance for emotional pain and thus continue to be foster parents–why, because we can? That only seems to answer the how, not the why.
We got into this in the hopes that we would adopt a child, and though we knew our role as foster parents, I’m not sure I understood its true meaning. I discovered over time that what we were being asked to do is to help in the process of reuniting a family. As foster-to-adopt parents, I think if I had really understood how this all worked I’m not sure I would have chosen this path. Eventually we assumed the role because, well, by then it was too late. We recognized the full weight of what it meant to be foster parents when back in August it seemed certain that he would go back. We committed ourselves to do whatever we could to help with the transition of our son back to his parents. What you begin to realize through all of this is that you may be asked to do things you never imagined yourself being able to do. In spite of ourselves and our desire to build a family we were forced to grow and stretch and become this strange breed of parent, the foster parent—that alien race of parents who would pour themselves out completely on their foster kids, knowing full well that one day in the future, suddenly, a social worker may appear at your door to take them away…..forever. It sounds crazy, we sound crazy. I can’t tell you why anyone would want to ever do this. Maybe one of you other alien foster parents can tell me why. Why do we do this?