Oh friends, how I hoped three months ago, that by now (mid-April), I would have more to tell you about our foster care story. I hoped and prayed that our empty bedroom would be full by now, that we would be settling in with a placement and really learning the ropes of being a foster parent.
However, this is not the case. In just three days, we will mark three months of waiting. The first month was the hardest. By month two, I was used to it, and into month three it almost became comical. I’ve managed to avoid cynicism for the most part, though it’s hard. Every night when I get my birth control pills out of the locked medicine box in my bathroom, I think “Gee it’s a good thing these pills are locked away from the kids we don’t have!”. And when I check my phone for the 1,516th time when I’ve stepped away from my desk (“Maybe I missed a placement call while I was in the bathroom!”), it’s hard not to feel disappointment.
But it’s really a weird thing to feel disappointed about though, right? That we still have open beds? Because if we aren’t currently foster parenting, that means they obviously have beds somewhere, right? Surely the foster care crisis isn’t over, we can’t all pack it up and say “Mission Accomplished!” See, I’m getting cynical again.
Wanting to help and feeling helpless are hard, but it’s nothing compared to what comes next. Because once The Call comes, and it will come, we’ll be in for sleepless nights of concern for our kids, new parenting challenges, heartbreak, and a new “normal” of therapy appointments and birth family visits. I feel as ready for that as one can ever be, but I should probably be using this time to gain more wisdom, pray more, and allow my heart to be broken and molded by the need. Because the need is great, friends.
Last weekend, we experienced our first respite care placement. I realized after excitedly sharing this news with our friends and family that no one knew what that meant, so I’ll explain: Respite care is used within the foster care system when foster parents need a substitute foster parent. Most of the time it’s for a weekend, but it could be for a week or up to a month if needed. Children in the foster care system aren’t able to just spend the night with anyone, so foster parents are dependent upon others being able to meet this need. Most of the time respite is awesome for everyone (or so I hear) – the kids love it because it’s a break from routine and they don’t have their regular chores and the respite foster parents sometimes just do respite and it’s not a regular thing.
We were thrilled to have kids in our home, even if it was just for the weekend. The girls, which I’ll call Alexis and Savannah, were 11 and 12 and absolutely wonderful. We had the greatest time with them – we went to the movies, we played games, we went to the zoo, went on walks, baked cookies, and had a picnic. Basically, we did as much as we could fit in, because we were so excited to FINALLY have some kids in our lives! I don’t think it could have gone any better, and I hope the girls felt the same way.
But the weekend ended and they went home.
Waiting sucks. Having no real response when people ask for news is depressing. Feeling like everyone must believe that something is wrong with us because we haven’t gotten a placement? Not at all pleasant. Constantly being on edge and wondering if we should make plans because what if? Not fun.
Waiting is rough, but we’ve been using the time to learn and prepare so that when it’s right, it’s right and we’ll know it. Our beds are still open, but so are our hearts.