fostering in real life

If Kyle’s post about “not having it all figured out” didn’t come across plain as day, here’s some more “real life” from me about fostering. Warning: I’m about to get reeaaaaaallly vulnerable/honest here.

You guys, I NEVER, in a million years would have imagined, planned, or dreamed that I would become a foster parent. When I was a kid, I never said, “When I grow up, I want to be a foster mom and adopt all the kids in the world and have a huge family.” You wouldn’t have even heard me say, “I think maybe I’ll be a foster parent someday,” when Kyle and I got married.

When Kyle brought up the idea of becoming foster parents, I didn’t think twice about it before I said yes, but not because I LOVE kids and imagined a houseful of them. Not because I am super nurturing and really affectionate and want to cuddle every neglected baby either. But because I knew it had to be done.

If not us, then who? There was a need, and we could meet it. There were kids who needed parents who wouldn’t hurt them, and we would be safe and loving. There were kids who needed a place to sleep, and we had beds.

Let me tell you a secret (okay, it’s not really a secret): I don’t LOVE being a foster mom. It’s freaking hard to be a parent, and it’s even harder to parent a little person you’ve never met and have to figure out and sometimes don’t understand at all. It’s exhausting to figure out each baby and wake up with them every night. I turn into a monster version of myself with little sleep. I go into survival mode and it’s really hard for me to deal with the new “normal”. The past two months with our latest tiny have been some of the hardest of my life.

But I do LOVE obeying Jesus and I feel strongly that He made it plain how we should live – for others. For the glory of God. And the fact that He DID call us to this, means that He also makes me able to do it. I’m still not necessarily GOOD at it, by my standards anyway, but I am able. I can love this baby. I can feed this kid and read them books. I can take this baby to dozens of doctor’s appointments and meetings and therapy sessions. I can do this while we are asked to do it. But I’m just not amazing. I’m doing it, and I’m trying to keep my head above water.

That’s not to say I’m not INCREDIBLY proud of what the little babies that have been in our care have accomplished. Or how they’ve changed from when they joined our family to when they’ve gone to be with family. Our latest little peanut has gained three and a half pounds! and is cooing and smiling and doing all the things she should. We packed the pounds on the previous kiddo too and saw her happy personality emerge and crack the shell of insecurity she had when she came to us.

I have to also give so much thanks and tons of credit to the many, many people that come along side us and make it possible for us to DO this, as imperfectly as we do. We have been overwhelmed with support – gifts and babysitting and friends who come to fold our laundry and pizza delivered and clothes and diapers and most of all, prayers. Many times when I’ve been at the end of myself, someone messages and reminds me they have my back in prayer, and oh go get yourself a latte with this coffee gift card. (Amen and thank you, Jesus.)

And yes, it’s hard to say goodbye. In some ways, there’s a sigh of relief, if we know the child is going to a place where they will continue to be loved and cared for. It’s always amazing how “easy” it is to go back to just our belly babies (bio kids) after a long time with a bonus baby. But I grieve. I hold my kids tight and we talk about the babies and the kids that were in our home most recently. I peek at her daddy’s Facebook profile and see if there’s a new picture of her. When our current sweetie goes with her family in a few weeks, I hope and I think that we’ll have the privilege of staying in touch with her family and seeing her sometimes

I just had to make it clear, again, that I am human and not a saint. I have my terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days as a parent. And as a foster parent. This is hard and I’m not good at it, but God’s grace, some high nutrition, and snuggles make up for my shortcomings most of the time.