I was completely new to the foster system and what foster parenting meant when I was approved. Here are a few things that I learned quickly!
Saying no is just as emotional as saying yes.
Nothing can prepare you for the first call you receive for placement. I vividly remember the moment my phone rang. On the other line, our homefinder gives me the most mundane scenario you have ever heard.
“Her Mom is about to have a C-Section, and she needs help caring for her daughter this week. There is no other family.”
I was leaving the next day for vacation and the child’s mother didn’t want her to go out of state. I had to say no. I cried for two days, not to mention the heavy breathing and the panic attack. Why? She wasn’t abused or neglected, her mother just needed help? I was still a wreck!
Since then, I can tell you exactly where I was standing when I have to say no to a placement. Every time I wonder if I am turning down my future child. The “coulda, shoulda, woulda’s” are unbearable, but sometimes the timing is off or the situation isn’t feasible for our family. Saying yes is hard, but saying no is harder.
The first week is the toughest.
Getting to know a new member of your family and understanding their individual needs can make the first week seem like a whirlwind. Not to mention the doctor appointments, dentists, eye doctor, placement visits, clothing vouchers, agency visits, medical record transfers, WIC appointments; and the list goes on and on.
Make sure to slow down, and take time to realize that bonding with your child is more important than everything that we just mentioned. Learn bonding techniques for infants. Rock you toddler to sleep a few times. Take your teenager for ice cream if you have the chance. Whatever you do, remember that next week will probably not be as demanding as the first week
Foster parenting is truly a community service.
I remember being deep into my first placement and the thought repeatedly came into my mind, “But what about how I feel?”
There are many emotions and feelings in this walk of life, but keep in mind that our main priority is the child. Some days we may do things that we don’t want to do, but we do it because are serving the children. In serving the children, we are making a difference in the future of our community!