Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My Favorite Pieces of Assvice

In the spirit of the holiday season, please sing to yourself from Julie Andrew's classic number from The Sound of Music. Picture rich, but miserable children dancing on beds in the thunderstorm.

Now that you’re fostering, you’ll surely get pregnant.
Chinese girls are cute
You could always adopt one…

When God Closes a Door….
Just relax!
Take a vacation.
Whatever you do don’t let hubby wear boxers.

Everything happens
to you for a reason
Even though it sucks.
I simply remember my favorite assvices.
And then I don’t feel…. So… bad….. (sung triumphantly)

It really is funny that people totally feel the need to offer you unsolicited advice. Completely unsolicited. I once got advice from the lady giving me a pedi when she overheard my conversation with a friend.

Generally I try to chalk it up to people being helpful, and most days I’m OK dealing with it. Other days it inspires me to create masterpieces like the one above :-)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Are we supposed to be parents or "Sort of" parents?

Since becoming a "foster-to-adopt" parent and receiving my first placement, I have come to realize that foster parents are in an interesting situation. We are supposed to love the children that are placed with us, we are supposed to "treat them like our own" (whatever that means) but somehow, we're supposed to stop just short of loving them so much that we don't want them to leave. We're supposed to "sort of" be parents. I'm not sure it's possible for PB and I to do that.

This situation seems to be most highlighted for me when I come into contact with people who "strictly foster" without intending to adopt. There is some tension there. Not nastiness or ugliness, just what seems to me, some latent judgment about how people who are fostering-to-adopt approach the situation. We are often reminded that reunification is the goal and we shouldn't be hoping that children become adoptable, as if rationally we aren't aware of that. We're also reminded the children we are caring for were "never really ours to begin with." Because you know, I didn't realize that before.

The thing that troubles me most though, is the implication that if we foster parents would just realize that they weren't "ours" and if we really understood that reunification was the goal, losing them should somehow be less traumatic.

I don't think it can be. Or maybe I should say I don't think it can be for me. I think if you really put your heart into it, which is what good parents (note the deliberate omission of foster in that statement) do, it will hurt no matter what. The idea that it's selfish to feel badly when a child leaves is a hard one for me to swallow.

Don't get me wrong, this doesn't just come from other foster parents. Well intentioned friends and relatives like to keep reminding me that I "knew what I was getting into". And I did.

But that doesn't mean it's not OK to mourn when one of them leaves. I don't think I could be human and not feel that way. The question is whether I can keep mourning each little person who comes into my life and not drive myself entirely crazy.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Long Overdue

My apologies for not updating sooner. I am not sure why, but I have been avoiding telling this part of the story. Maybe because I know it’s good and I still don’t really want to admit that… lots of cognitive dissonance there. Anyway, I wanted to let you know what has transpired in the last week or so.

Baby Bear had his first visit with his biological parents last week. Yes, you read that correctly parents. His biological dad and paternal grandma now know about him, and they seem very interested and excited… or at least Grandma does. Dad looks kind of scared, like Baby Bear might fall to pieces every time he holds him.

Meeting his biological family was, as several seasoned foster parents predicted, a good thing. A very good thing, actually. Returning him to strangers with uncertain backgrounds who I had not met was a much more terrifying hypothetical than watching his mom hold him again and realizing that she looked at Baby Bear the same way I did the very first time in the hospital – with a huge amount of love and just a little bit of awe.

And it’s also different than walking into the room and seeing all of his features reflected in the face of his biological dad. It’s uncanny how much they look alike. Baby Bear has dad’s nose, his mouth, the same slope to his forehead. It was beautiful, actually. And, for me personally, incredibly bittersweet.

Do I still have doubts about what will happen to him? Of course. But does the thought of him leaving now reduce me to hyperventilating? Not so much.

I think bio mom and grandma were relieved to see how “white” Baby Bear is. That’s troubling, because I don’t think your love for your child should depend on skin pigmentation, or lack thereof, but I haven’t lived their lives and I don’t know what their family is like. Thankfully, paternal grandma, who is also African American, is aware of the situation and told me in no uncertain terms that she won’t let the fact that he’s biracial be held against him. I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear that.

In fact, I think his biological paternal grandma ROCKS! She is, I think, a big part of why I feel I am beginning… in the very tiniest of ways… to make peace with his return to his biological family.

Yeah, wish me luck with that.