“So, are you the presenter?”
That was the first question I received from an attendee last week. I smiled and said, yes, of course, but really I wanted to smack the lady.
I had a chance to be one of a handful of presenters at a foster parent recruitment night this past month. It was set up as a series of round tables, with the foster families sharing their stories at each one. It’s an awesome chance to get to hear from current and past foster parents, ask questions, get an idea of what foster care in our county looks like and start to build community. It’s meant to be positive, sharing the highs, sharing the vision our county has and the joys of this job.
I wasn’t sure how to start or what to talk about at each table. Usually just the basics, “Hi, I’m Lauren, my husband wishes he could be here, I have 5 kids ranging from 8-1”
And then I would pause. Not sure where to go. Why did we start this again? I stumbled and stuttered through most of it, just asking if anyone had any questions for me I could answer. It was an effective solution and probably the easiest way to not get burned out over the next two hours. But I left feeling like maybe I could’ve said more. Maybe I should’ve had a great family mission statement and specific reasoning behind it. Anything other than we wanted to adopt at some point in the future and this was free.
The same couple that asked if I was the one actually presenting also had a few other gems that night.
“How long are kids in care?” It depends.
“But are we looking at like 4 months or like 3 years?” It depends
“How much do you get paid?” It depends
“I’m just trying to get my head around this, you mentioned foster parenting was a good fit for your specific skillsets. What are they?” Seriously? I like kids. And you are a jerk.
The rest of the time they would ask a question and look at each other, say “oh sorry, it depends” and laugh.
I also met amazing couples with really great questions. Excited and eager and nervous and as ready as you can be. Parents and Couples and Singles. There were tears and laughing. Sighs. A few words of encouragement “You sound like a really good Foster Mom.” I shared the resources that are available and gave tips on how to ask for help and how to be specific about the needs and concerns of your specific family. I shared details about the county and scheduling and what to expect when someone comes into your house. The simple things like- show them around, make dinner, watch a show, put out clothes, have icecream.
I connected with the other foster parents in our community, sharing stories and laughing. Wishing I could’ve sat at the table with them and just listened to their stories. Searching for some sort of encouragment. For the “me too.”
A lot of days I wish we had taken time to sit down and write a foster family mission statement before we started. My heart is too stretched to do it now. Stretched with hints of comings and goings. With the constant feeling like I’m never quite doing enough, not connected enough, not bonding enough, too distracted, too overwhelmed, too… all the things.
The what if’s playing so strongly.
I’ve had more time to think of what I wish I had said that night. I think that we started this journey by simply pulling a thread. We started looking at what adoption would look like. We went to orientation in our county. We liked what we heard. We went to training. We submitted the paperwork. We updated our house. We answered the phone. We answered again. And again. And again. Small threads that led to where we are now. Nine years of marriage, eight tender hearts that we love deeply, one home bursting with memories that we will never forget. Small threads that we pulled and pulled and pulled.
Or pulled us.
Maybe that’s a better illustration.
I’ve never felt more just ‘along for the ride’ then I have the past few months. And I’m starting to slowly learn that that’s ok.
“Wow, God knew what was gonna happen here for sure.”
I’m so glad he does.
If you ever have a chance to attend something like this, I would highly recommend it. We had foster family helpers, foster parents, county workers. Even if you just want to hear what it’s like to be a foster kid, it’s worth it just for that.
Or, you can always email me. Or come watch my kids. Or buy them a gift. Or get them icecream. That’s a great way to see that they are really just normal kids and not anything like the sappy radio commercials make it all sound. I promise I’ll only put your questions on the blog if they are like really really really really annoying.
There was an illustration a little while ago that dissapeared from the internet (or at least I can’t find it now) but it’s a foster famly and the web of support that surrounds them. Thank you all for being a part of that web. Not everyone can actually be the foster family but I do hope that everyone can at least have a realistic idea of what foster care looks like in America in 2016. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll start the thread pulling for your family too.