Sunday, January 26, 2014

What Not to Say...

There are just some things I'm sick to death of hearing. Here are a few. Yes, everything on this list has been said to me multiple time by multiple people. Yes, you may have said one of these things to me... it's okay, I promise. And yes, my explanations may rub you the wrong way, but it truly is how I feel.

"I don't know how you do it. I would get so attached."
So I hate to sound like a sensitive little pansy here, but what that really sounds like to me is that you're implying that I have a gift of NOT getting attached to children, therefore I can be a foster mom. That's not a good gift to have, by the way... Just in case you were wondering.

"How do you not get attached?"
I do. Intensely. After a few hours. It's a kid who needs me and who needs love, there's no way to fill that gap for them without attachment. It would be incredibly unhealthy for them to not experience any attachment during this terrifying time of their life. And besides, they deserve attachment. Does it make it harder to let go in the end when they leave? Of course. But it's not about me. It's about them and the ministry that I have been called into and they have been placed into. It's about being a safe place and pointing them to the face of the Father. Without trust, I can do neither of those things. And with attachment comes trust. 

"How long will you have them?"
I have no clue. It may be 2 days, it may be 5 months, it may be a year or longer. I have relatively no input when it comes to the timeline. Not to mention, there are so many people and so many factors involved that the timeline may change daily. It's best to just take it one day at a time. (And while we're chasing this rabbit... "Why did the judge send them back?" I have absolutely no idea. I guess he/she thought it was best for the child. I was not consulted nor even present in the court room.)

"Are you going to adopt them?"
This is somewhat of a loaded question and it is something that I get asked a lot. The question itself does not necessarily bother me, because when the time is right, I will hopefully have a beautiful adoption from foster care story to write about and share with the world. With that being said... I think there's quite a bit that people aren't aware of that makes this question so difficult...
First things first, please never ever ever ask a foster parent this question when there are children present. 
These children have a birth family. They have a mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc that they love and care about. Granted, not every child will have all of these people present in their lives, but for the most part, they have at least one and usually a combination of them. For most children in care, their foster family is NOT their forever family. Most cases have a goal of reunification and they may have family members working very diligently to get them back. There are children in care that go back to family members who are dedicated to their family's healing and restoration. We should cheer for that, celebrate it, shout about it from the mountaintops! And for the children who are not able to be reunified with their birth family... Yes, they may become adoptable. However, asking that very loaded (and quite personal) question in front of the children could very well demolish the bonds of trust that have been painstakingly built throughout the placement. 

I understand that many people ask this question out of sincere care and concern that they have for the child, and even excitement for the family who may be gaining a new forever family member. My advice to you is to let the family bring it up first, then you'll know for sure that they're ready to talk about it. If you just can't wait, ask in private. Away from children (foster kids and bio kids alike) and any other audience that will likely make the person feel put on the spot and pressured to give an answer that they are not yet ready to give.

"Why aren't you going to adopt them?"
If you do ask me the previous question, my answer, at this moment in my life, will be no. Please do NOT ask the why question. It brings about feelings of grief and guilt for me and it makes me feel like I'm being attacked for my decision. I am doing my best to follow God in this ministry that He has given me. I pray about every placement call I receive, every answer I give, and every decision that needs to be made along the way. Adoption is something that I pray about all the time. I know that when God gives me the go ahead, His answer will be made very clear and I will know without a shadow of a doubt that it is the step that I need to take. Until then, I wait. 

"You knew it was coming." (In reference to a child moving.)
It. Does. Not. Matter. I have journeyed into foster care with my eyes wide open. Make no mistake, I know they will leave eventually. That has no bearing on the fact that I will miss them and I will grieve in their absence. I hate to compare it to this, but would you ever say this same thing to someone who has just lost a loved one after a long illness? If you say yes to that question, you may want to take a good long look at your manners (or lack thereof).

"You can always just let them know if it's not working out and they can put them with another family."
Sure... Let me just add my name to the list of people who gives up on them. (NOTE THE SARCASM!) This is not a game. This is a child's life. Every time their life is disrupted, every time they have to move, every time they have to say goodbye to the familiar and start over again is another strike to any trust they may still have in the adults in their life. Many of these children come into care because of reasons that you couldn't come up with in your worst nightmares. They deserve healing, not another reason to distrust everyone around them. They deserve a place to be safe and loved, even if that comes with challenges. Are there reasons that a child may need to be placed into another home? Yes, there are, but it would need to be in the best interest of the child and based on their needs, not my own convenience.

"So what's this one's story?"
I really shouldn't talk about it, so please just don't ask that question. I know you ask because you care, because you have a vested interested in my family, but when it comes down to it... It really is the child's story to tell when they're ready, not mine.

"Why are they in foster care?" 
See the answer to the previous question.

Or even worse (like, a million-billion-trillion times worse)... "What did they do to be a foster kid?"
THEY. DID. NOTHING. A child is not and should not be defined by the actions that someone else has taken. Almost every child who comes into care believes that it is their fault that their family was torn apart. Do not perpetuate this belief by asking this question. I'm going to be completely honest with you... If you ever ask me this question, especially in front of the children in my care, I will probably not put myself or my children in the position to be around you again. It's too risky for their little hearts to be around someone who is so careless with words. 

"Parents who lose their kids shouldn't get anymore chances."
You should probably know something about me... I'm on the family's side. Ultimately, I will support what is best for the child, but these families need a cheerleader. Many times, these parents have no one that they can lean on or trust. They have no one that encourages them or prays for them. Many times, they are simply doing what they know to do. I do not defend their actions, but I will fight tooth and nail to help them heal and become a better parent. And who of us has not received 2nd, 3rd, and millionth chances? It's a good thing that God is more forgiving of us than we are of others...

"Welcome to motherhood."
I'm quite certain at I'm guilty of saying this... But let's just all come to an agreement that; A) my motherhood is different than yours so you can't welcome me to it, B) your motherhood is different than mine so I can't welcome you to it, and C) it may be one of the most annoying sayings in the universe. 

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