Saying, “I could never do that” appears to be a socially acceptable thing when one is confronted with foster care. This I have noticed.
God bless ya, folks. I know exactly what you are saying and thinking because I’ve been in your shoes, I’ve been on that side of the issue. But now I’m on the other side of the issue, on the foster parent side, and I want to say a few things.
You could do it.
No really. You could. You really really could.
Handing back a child—for the good of that child—is not an easy thing. In fact, it can be fairly heartbreaking. But I’ve never heard heartbreaking equated with a “can’t” statement except for in foster care. Except in the case where the foster family is actually looking out for the good of the child. You can’t do it? Really now? I think you might mean that you don’t want to do it. (Which is completely fine and normal and is a statement that I understand.)
I’ve never heard someone upon meeting a potential love interest say she “can’t” fall in love because she might get her heart broken. You don’t say that you “can’t” pick up a stray from the humane society because it might get hit by a car someday. You don’t say that you “can’t” make an offer on a house because something might go poorly at closing time. We chance disappointments quite often. This is LIFE after all! If you didn’t chance being disappointed you would never experience anything at all.
Here’s the thing. I didn’t want to give back the baby I fostered. The one whose diapers I had been changing since birth, the one who snuggled in my neck after her tummy was full, the one whose chubby legs I would slather in sweet baby shampoo and then again in lotion afterwards. Yep, I kinda liked her. Scratch that, I loved her! But I loved her with the knowledge that her good was more important than the impending heartbreak I saw on the horizon. Her good, not my happiness, was the angle there.
The truth is that we’ve only fostered once and that we are total newbies here. I’m admitting that I know nothing beyond what my classes, my foster parent friends and my one foster experience have taught me.
But if you think I’m doing it because I can easily hand off a child to another parent, you’ve got another thing coming. Though I imagine some kids, the really challenging ones, are easier to hand off, in our situation it wasn’t so easy. While we were reaching for the good of this baby, we were also feeling quite sad that we couldn’t keep her.
At the end of the day though, we could get over it because it’s not about us.
We’re all tougher than we think we are really. You can do it. Really really, you can.