For all the stories I have to share there are a million more that you will never get to hear. I don’t think of myself as an extremely private person, and since all of my children are now adopted, I am not necessarily bound by the guidelines of foster care right now, so there is no external reason not to pour my heart out…and still… there are stories I will not share… because they aren’t my stories.
People love a good drama, they want to know the when and why and how. Foster care provokes many questions. When you show up with an extra child for a play date or a family event what can you say? How can people who know you so well not ask? And the questions usually aren’t asked with any bad intentions so you feel more awkward than ever.
Of course you could just say this is whoever, our foster child. And that would settle it. Everyone would know what the deal is. Including your “foster child”. And while there is nothing wrong with that truth, the sad part of all of this is that the truth hurts. And for those first couple weeks and months it hurts real bad.
In foster care things can be very uncertain, there are times when the kids are planned to go home and it doesn’t happen.
There was a Christmas when our kiddos were leaving to go home the next weekend, there clothes and personal items had already been moved, so all we had left at our house was enough for one week. They had gone off to their last weekend visit before finalizing everything but when they came home early that Sunday I knew something was “off”. Wouldn’t you know, three days before Christmas, we get the call that nobody is going anywhere. Those same kiddos were adopted by us within the next year. They never went home again after that visit. Imagine the questions this story provokes…
I can tell you that I hadn’t shopped for any real Christmas presents for them.
I can tell you we had a “good-bye” party scheduled for the same day that we found out they were staying.
I can tell you that for the “good-bye” party I had asked that our family bring only gifts that will promote independence and be helpful once they returned home, like bath towels, hair brushes, and body washes.
I can tell you I had just purchased all new furniture for our biological kids with their soon-to-be single bedroom statuses. (This resulted in one of the most bizarre Christmas gifting scenarios we’ve ever had.)
I can tell you I literally drove off the side of the road with equal parts anxiety and relief when the call came that they were staying with the idea of reworking Christmas for 8 kids under 11 years old in three days. Also knowing in that moment that my whole life would be permanently changed because of that decision.
And I can tell you I had felt like a part of me was literally dying for weeks before they were to leave.
But what I can’t tell you is how our house felt, or what we shared with the kids back then to explain. The long nights spent wide awake that came from that time, or the emotions we all wore on our sleeves for months while we made sense of everything. I can’t tell you about that last visit or all of the years that lead up to those last weekends. I can’t tell you what all of our kids themselves were thinking or feeling about everything then or now. And I can’t tell you all of the questions that I tried to politely answer from everyone else, the ones I flat out lied to in protection of my children, and the ones where I just changed the subject.
Please be mindful of your responses and questions when faced with something that so clearly isn’t making sense. Consider the little ears standing nearby and the questions they probably have themselves.
Oh there are a million stories to share. So many that could tell all of the good, the bad and the ugly. I am planning to share all of them with you…that is, as long as they are mine to tell.