This is me yesterday. With my daughter Pancake. And a turtle. At a zoo. :)
SO. Becoming a foster family is providing some good blog fodder. It's hard though, I can't really write anything about anything but I want to provide some insider information about the process. That way I can share what I'm learning and encourage others who might be thinking about becoming a foster family.
Right now, we are doing what is called 'respite' care. Not full on foster care, but temporary care to give a break to foster parents. Basically, it's like babysitting at this point. We've had the same child twice now. Again, we'll call him Sam here.
Sam has a birth family and our job is to help support a reunification plan with that family. He's staying with us more and more lately which makes a thousand and one questions swirl around in my brain. Followed by a thousand emotions.
All these questions and emotions are largely self centered. I want to know why the birth family isn't following their plan to get better to get Sam back. I want to know what role the Dad has. I realize he's a guest of the jail system, but when does he get out? Can he take Sam to live with him?
The first questions, about the birth family getting better, are tough for me. I'm in mental health. I know about mental illness, addiction and general behaviors normally seen on the show COPS. Well, I know about them from a clinical point of view. But, being with this kid is opening up a bridge to the actual reality of it.
It's hard because I want to get in there, with the birth family, design a treatment plan and get on with it. However, that is not my job. They have social workers and counselors and treatment teams. There is a plan. Again, my job is to care for the kid a few weekends a month.
Then. There is the other family. The ones Sam lives with during the week. She is kin. She provides kinship/foster care for Sam. She has to deal with birth family not getting better too. Only it's her family. When we do the drop off/pick up for little Sam, I see the pain in her face and it just.frickin.kills me.
I don't have the protection of clinical detachment here. She is not my patient, but someone who loves Sam just like we do. I want to raise my hand and volunteer to be Sam's full time caregiver while the birth family gets their act together. That is what real foster care is.
Then, if I look deeper, I realize I want to adopt the little guy. But use an open adoption model so we can still keep in contact with his birth family. Then I realize I have to stop.
This isn't about me. It's about all this gifts my family has been given. I have a fantastic marriage, two awesome and loving kids. And a big, round belly full of number 3. God gave us these gifts so we can share them. This journey of becoming a foster family is not something I am in charge of. It's my job to let it all happen.
God has this all planned out anyway.
So. I'll let go and let God guide the way.