I talk about foster care a lot. I often worry that I overshare, or that people are tired of hearing about it. Other times, I wonder if I’m not sharing enough.
Truth be told, I’ll never be done talking about foster care. No words will ever give this chapter of my life proper justice.
In an instant, foster care went from something I felt passionate about, to my entire life. In that moment, two little boys were carried through my front door. Not by their mom or their dad, and not by their social worker. Rather, by the foster mom who decided she couldn’t care for them any longer. In that broken moment, the foster care system made me a mom. Therefore, I cannot accurately acknowledge my parental role without also acknowledging foster care.
My husband and I weren’t there when these boys were born. We weren’t there for their first birthdays. I don’t know what experiences have shaped C into the kiddo he is today. And I have no idea if K was breastfed before he was brought to us.
But, we were there for K’s first steps. And we do kiss a lot of C’s boo-boos. We took K to his first haircut, and C to his first movie. Day in and day out, we are parenting these boys. We are experiencing lots of firsts, seconds, and thirds with both of them. Most importantly, we love them more than words could possibly say.
But, they aren’t actually our kids, and we don’t know if they’ll ever be ours. Foster care is not adoption, and it isn’t meant to be.
This reality can hurt. We’re essentially in an open relationship—which causes confusion and emotions that feel overbearing at times.
However, our pain is so minimal compared to the hurt that our boys are enduring. Torn between two families—two mommies and two daddies. Unsure of where they are supposed to be, and feeling guilty for wanting to be with one family over the other.
We often tell C how lucky he is to have so many people who love him. (This is true—both boys have SO many people who love them). C will even brag to his friends that he has two mommies and two daddies. We do our best to co-parent with their biological parents, and we make sure to acknowledge their biological siblings, grandparents, etc. We try to build a picture of one, cohesive, “normal” family for the boys.
But, can you imagine the confusion they feel? In those quiet moments when they are all alone. They must wonder why they have two mommies and two daddies, or why they have moved homes so many times in their short, little lives. They have to be curious as to why the rules keep changing, or why they can only see their *other* parents when the social worker says so. Worst of all, I can’t imagine they truly know where home is.
This is not how life is supposed to be. Kids should wonder about unicorns and superhero’s, not about their place in this world.
These babies are battling a host of emotions that their tiny bodies cannot yet verbalize. The instability of their lives would leave anyone confused, and while we will stabilize their lives for as long as possible, I cannot promise that I will always be there for them.
For this reason, we would be doing our boys a severe injustice if we didn’t acknowledge that they are foster children. Their lives are messy and complicated, and processing this chaos is tough when you’re just a kid. Someone needs to verbalize and understand their stories—their lives cannot go untold. Someone must advocate for the thousands of kids living this way. They need to be understood and they need to be heard.
So, I will probably continue to overshare about foster care. By sharing my story, I hope I can bring awareness to an otherwise taboo topic.