Patience and Grace
- Anonymous Blog Post from a TruLight Foster Mom
We are four months into our fostering journey and have faced many emotions, circumstances and situations. We have had 5 placements, 3 of which we currently still have in our home. We have grown attached to children, loved them with our whole heart, and protected and cared for them while being told we aren't taking care of them right by the very people who hurt them and caused them to be put into foster care.
Fostering isn't all roses.
There are hard days and it truly can be a roller coaster, but in the end, it is worth it. Let me explain. Many people have a false sense of the reality of foster care. It's not just taking in a child and continuing to live your life. Oh, if it were just that easy! Your life becomes consumed with foster related things: doctor appointments, therapy appointments, visits, paperwork, numerous people in and out of your house, more paperwork, and then there is the kids. These kids come from hard places. Whether it is abuse, neglect or drugs, there is trauma in their life they have to deal with, even infants. It's not easy for anyone. It's a long and hard road that requires lots of patience for foster parents. We take younger kids and many people think that is easier because they won't remember.
This is not true.
They still have to respond to the trauma, only they don't have the words and capabilities older kids have to express themselves. This is when you see toddlers with frustration and anger issues like one of our Littles had upon arriving. Not really speaking at 2 years old, he didn't know how to play with toys. He stood with the toys in his mouth or threw them, at anyone and anything to try and communicate. I don't mean just toss, he threw with his whole force whatever he could get his hands on. We have worked on do-overs, time-in which we call heart time, sign language, using our words, and making sure he gets opportunities every morning and afternoon to get the energies out. He has made tremendous progress in 4 months. We still struggle at times, but communication is improving, the power struggles and frustration are decreasing as he is starting to actually ask for help when he needs it. He has a good vocabulary now and is constantly learning new words. He no longer uses a bottle and can eat food like a regular toddler. This picky little eater recently ate 2 plates of dinner when he barely finishes one on a regular basis, and even ate his veggies. We are working hard on weight gain and we continue to offer healthy food over and over and he finally is eating some here and there.
Time and patience. A work in progress. Small victories.
We are working closely with our Little Mans bio parents, CPS and all those involved as we prepare for him to reunify. We have had the honor and privilege to watch his parents fight for him, work on themselves and utilize every avenue to get better for this little man. We have prayed for them and with them, encouraged them, and are so happy to see this family coming back together even though our hearts will break when he leaves us, we know for this one kid we made a difference to him and his family. How can an infant have trauma? They do!! Maybe they were physically hurt and fear people hurting them again. Maybe they were neglected and don't like contact. Maybe they were exposed to drugs and are having withdrawals. They cannot talk to you about these things so they have to communicate somehow. Usually it's screaming or crying excessively, tremors from drug withdrawal, lack of contact with previous primary caregiver, a need to be swaddled tight
... the list can go on and on.
One of our Littles is very fussy, has tremors, screams an awful shrill cry, has digestive issues and horrible diarrhea. It's not easy. It's hard, that's the truth, because I want to take that all away and make these Littles all better and I can't. When this baby girl came to us at just 11 weeks old she avoided eye contact, she would either scream and cry or stare into space. In a month’s time, that sweet baby is making eye contact, smiling, and cooing. It's the most amazing thing ever to see her respond to us, see her demeanor change and her guard drop a little as she learns to trust us and let us comfort her and take care of her. It's more than words can express to have this baby who didn't understand physical contact and simple kisses be able to laugh and smile when you talk to her and kiss her. And it's utterly heartbreaking when in the next moment she's in horrible pain just from drinking her formula. Despite having to see the hard things these babies go through we also are blessed and honored to see the good and positive things. A five-and-a-half-month-old baby born drug addicted and a preemie. A tiny little baby that came to us so small at 7 weeks that my husband was afraid to hold her. We have watched her grow and flourish. She is a fighter! She has battled some ongoing illnesses, easily picked up germs causing more sickness, but she never lets it stop her small body. We have watched her learn to laugh, roll over, eat her first foods, and become so close to sitting up on her own. We have the honor and privilege to see her flourish, see her "firsts, " and encourage and teach her. This is the happy side of foster care. Seeing this baby make milestones and celebrate them with her melts my heart, makes me smile, while crying tears of joy. She can and will beat the odds.
My life has become a calendar. I cannot schedule anything without looking to make sure we don't have conflicting appointments, visits or therapies. Our days are planned in advance and when we are not on our schedule we see the effects in the kids. In addition to scheduling visits and appointments, we have to make sure the kids have time to adjust if it's a visit day and not have another appointment because even at 5 months old, this little baby comes home and is grumpy and out of sorts for the next 24-48 hours. We have to schedule in that down time to let their little mind and body process and regroup.
These are babies ... toddlers ... it should not be this way. But it is.
And because it is, we continue to be here, to stand beside them, love them, protect them, and be their voice. We pledge to make sure that while they are in our home they are loved by us and they know they are loved by Jesus. We have to stay focused on what we can do and not what we can't or what we don't know. Late nights of screaming, multiple outfit changes from vomit or diarrhea, feeling her body shake or jerk, it's hard. It can and will break your soul.
I have to ask God daily to give me Grace, Love and Forgiveness.
I have to remind myself every day that God called me to be a foster parent and he will lead me through each tiring moment, each uncertain situation, each hurt and broken heart. I ask for Grace and Forgiveness for the way I feel toward bio parents at times, the anger, frustration and resentment. They are human, they sin as I do, they probably don't know Jesus and all His great ways. I have to be reminded that I have to show them Christ because if I'm not, who will? I have to give the bio parents Grace and Forgiveness because God forgives me, how can I not forgive others? I have to ask for Grace and Forgiveness with myself ... I lose patience, I get angry, I am human and I fall short.
I have to remind myself it's okay and I have to turn it over to God because He called me to this fostering journey and He will lead and give us strength. We only have to rely on Him in all things. Foster Care is not easy. It's hard. It will consume you, your time, your energy and it will break your heart at times but it will also fill your heart with such joy and love. It will be the hardest thing you have ever done but also the most rewarding.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 NIVTweet
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