Fostering with the local Children’s Aid Society hasn’t been all that advantageous. Since beginning in July I’ve had two placements, each lasting 6 weeks. This means I’ve been empty for 11 weeks. That’s a long time. I thought my age range, 0-8yrs, and being able to take up to three children would keep me busy. It’s not.
All this “vacation time” (since fostering is my only official job at the moment), has revealed something to me. I love parenting. As challenging as it is, I love the long haul. The triage of kids coming for 6 weeks isn’t where I do my best work. When they leave I feel like we’ve both wasted a lot of time. I try to impart to them, but with visits – sometimes three a week – with birth family it’s hard to connect. Of course I understand the importance of birth family involvement and all of that. Please don’t misunderstand me. It’s just, these short stints feel more like childcare than parenting. At this point, I’m not much of a childcare provider (I don’t even volunteer for kids’ church anymore). But I’m a really good parent.
Lamenting to a friend and fellow foster parent with the same Children’s Aid, I couldn’t really remember why I made the switch. The private agency I fostered for had some significant structural flaws. I was no longer proud to be a part of the organization. But all this time without foster children has me glamorizing for the good old days when I was a treatment foster parent. Most of those kids stayed as long as you wanted them to, which wasn’t always advantageous.
I know the Lord wanted me to switch. But I don’t know why or for how long. There have been times I’ve done exactly as He says without apparent success. This past week, I was ready to admit defeat. I want to foster. With the local Children’s Aid, that’s not something I’m able to do on a regular basis. So I gave the Lord one week. “If I don’t get a call by 5pm on Friday, February 7 I’m contacting my previous agency and begging to return.” It went without saying that call needed to be about an appropriate placement.
Thursday, February 6 I got a call from a social worker I’ve gotten to know (she did the training when I was applying to adopt a few years ago). “I don’t know if you’d be interested in this,” she began very tentatively. She’s the one who called me about Joseph* (see Love is Important). I couldn’t imagine anything more challenging. “We need a home for a girl, about to be 9, and a 7 year old boy.” A few more particulars were shared before she asked, “Should I go on or is it already a no?”
The siblings had been at another foster home for a week already. The issues – lying, possible intellectual delay, and incontinence – were more than the foster parents could manage. It’s not what I wanted. I was still hoping for a baby. But I said yes.
They arrived Friday. Thus far it’s been blissful. The little girl has been taking care of her brother for a long time. It’s hard for her to let me be in charge – even of my own kids. That’s been our biggest challenge. They’re sweet children, teachable and eager to please. They’re getting along well with Sloane* and Elise*.
So here we are. Once again four children are sleeping peacefully under my roof. Seems I’m staying put for the time being.