Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Thoughts on Fostering

3 months ago we welcomed the coolest kid into our house. We could never imagine how much our lives would change. It flipped us around, changed our world, showed us patience, craziness, and lots of love...and it's our new normal. 
Now in a week and a half, we will be saying goodbye to our cool kid. I'm not sure how I feel yet.

When I first got the call, it was for a 1 year old that needed to be fostered for 2-3 weeks. I thought this would be the perfect "starter" foster case. It would be a good, fun age to start with and short enough to get our feet wet. This would give us a taste of what we were in for. Naive, right?!

What we got was a 18 month old for 3 months. Going from zero children to a toddler was insane! The anxiety that we felt that first week was out of control. Where do you start? There was no easing from sleepless nights with an newborn to infant then to toddler. It was abrupt. All of a sudden, there was this adorable stranger in our house who loved to scream, tantrum, eat and poop. 

In one week, we learned what could be climbed on, pulled off, jumped on, ripped up, carried around and chewed on. I also learned that there is nothing better than rocking a baby to sleep. I love to hear that little voice call me "mama" and Mario "daddy". I love the giggles and to see that brain working things out. The kid is smart! I found out that I could fall in completely in love in a few days...all while knowing that he'd be leaving in a week or two.

In one month, we figured out that dcfs is on a different schedule. 2-3 weeks means something different to them...we were ok with that. We figured out how we were going to deal with tantrums, hitting, child care, running a business with a toddler around and adjusting marriage to fit a new being in. We saw daily changes to his behaviors. We became the people that he comes to for love, security, and silliness. We know craisins are the key to a quiet child. I love craisins...I also love nap time! We also found out that you don't sleep train a toddler...they sleep train you. 

In two months, we became more comfortable with parenting. We felt more comfortable taking him out to restaurants and shopping. It was around this time that we really saw how much our decision to foster affected our family and friends. They were all in love also. It was around this time that we really started hoping that the plan that was set in place for him, would fall through and he could stay with us. However, we found out he'd be leaving us for sure. An order to move him has been made. This guy who turned our life around would be leaving as planned. I had allowed myself to hope that he'd stay. 

At the three month mark, parenting has become comfortable. But, I see the end date coming up quick. I don't think about how I'll feel, it doesn't matter how I feel. I worry about him. He'll be moving in with family. Family he should be with. But I still worry about this one last move. In 18 months, he's been moved around a number of times. 

When the doorbell rings or there is a knock at the door, he screams and runs to me for security. It took a while for me to figure out why he was freaking out...until one day he screamed "they get me!" My heart sank. He is at an age where he remembered being removed from his last home. He knows what it means to hear a knock at the door and to be removed from a home and family he has gotten to know and even love. So many times there has been a knock at the door and I have said "It's ok, baby. You're safe. No one is going to get you." Now I know, there is a knocking coming when I can't say "It's ok. No one is coming to get you. " 

I'm terrified for him. I cry because I won't be able to explain why we won't be there any more. I cry because I know it's not just him and us that will hurt...our family and friends will hurt also when he's gone. I've already told his social worker that we want him back if it doesn't work out with his family. I don't want it not to work out for him. I don't want him moved one more time...but I'm selfish enough to hope he comes back to us.