These are two more posts by my niece, Melissa Walker Fenderson about being a foster parent. She, her husband and three teenagers have welcomed these children into their home to foster them while their parents get help for various reasons. I wanted to share her insightful words to help others who might be considering foster care for those children “caught between.”
Foster Care Part 3
Realities of Kids and coping in foster care. I have always heard that kids are resilient, and I have seen that in foster care. Many kids accept their situations and their absence from their families without much trouble. They jump back and forth from our home to their parents, then back to us without much trouble. Others are more affected or show how affected they are in different and unexpected ways. The one year old we have in care currently wakes up mostly happy, goes to day care happily, is happy when I pick him up, comes home happily and then when he starts getting tired, he starts crying. He wants to be held, and is content being held, until he sits up and looks at me, then he cries this heart breaking cry when he seems to recognize that I am not the person he was hoping for to hold and comfort him when he is tired. He will lay his head on my shoulder and sob till he calms down, then he sits up and look at me, and starts cry loudly again. It’s gut wrenching to know that mine is not the face he is looking for. How do you explain to a one year old that mom can’t be with him right now. This behavior seems to get better during the week, then re-escalates after he sees his mom on Fridays. This is one of the faces of foster care, but it isn’t the only one. Our three month old little girl, sees me and smiles. She loves to cuddle and she doesn’t seem to notice that anything is amiss. We have had 10 kids in the first two years of doing foster care and most have coped well with foster care, but not all show the trauma that they feel right away or in obvious ways.
Foster Care Part 4
Foster care is tough for kids. Foster care is tough all around. Our kids got to see their mom yesterday, and the one year old has just been a hot mess ever since. I don’t blame him, but it’s hard to be patient through meltdown after meltdown that occurs with little or no provocation at all. Then I think of what it must be like for him. Imagine being taken away from your mom at 1 year old, and given to a strange family who eat different food, don’t know that you take a pacifier to soothe you, have a bunch of bigger kids who think you are a bit of a toy/novelty, take you to day care that you have never been to, take you to church that you have never been to, and constantly expose
you to all kinds of new things that can feel frightening to you. When you have had a week to settle in without mom and get used to not seeing her, then all of the sudden she is back. You are happy, actually ecstatic, then after seeing mom for 2 hours, the strange family comes back and takes you away again. This happens on a weekly basis and you don’t know why…
I don’t blame him, and the struggle is real for him and for all who deal with him. If you have ever felt inadequate as a parent, and I have, this feels worse. He gets angry with us and “yells” at us in his baby talk, then wants me to hold and love on him. He fights me then wants me to play with him and pick him up and cuddle him. It’s so confusing for him and for us. I can’t tell what he wants. Ryan has been traveling on business this last week (it doesn’t happen often, but it happens), so I have been single parenting. All I can say is that boys need a dad. I try to rough house with him, but it isn’t the same. It was a beautiful thing to see our 1 year old grab onto Ryan and cuddle and hold Ryan tight this morning. This is just more of the beauty and brokenness of Foster care.