Foster parenting has been on my heart since I was a young woman. It seems that I have always known in the depth of my soul that I was supposed to love children. I felt a drive to have children in my home that were not my biological children almost as strongly as I desired my own Jacob and Reba. As a 15 or 16 year-old I was expressing my desires for many children to my mom (a woman who has dedicated her life to loving children as an educator). With her love and wisdom she pressed on my heart the first memory I have of desiring a large family that may or may not share my genetic makeup. "Have children of your own, if you are able. But there are many children in this world that do not have someone to love them. " And there it was. I knew instantly I would open my family to these children.
I have been blessed generously with my Jacob and Reba. We actually just had their parent conferences with their respective teachers. Of course every parent wants to believe things about their children, they are smart, they are confident, they are good kids. It is so affirming when someone else believes this too. Jacob's teacher added his humor to his list of strengths (we get this every year - we are afraid, very afraid) and we know he is funny because he pulls some great one liners at home. He is just funny enough to get in some big trouble - uh, does this sound like someone else we know (eh hem, Brian). Reba had too many strengths to list, her weakness is perfectionism (she only looks just like me - clearly I don't suffer from perfectionism, eh hem, Brian and mom). Most importantly each teacher confirmed our greatest hope for our children, they are nice, loving children. But then again, we knew that.
Life could be complete and fairly tidy with these two. I could easily live forever knowing I had a Jacob and a Reba and things could go along mostly uncomplicated. There would always be one kid for each parent, one boy, one girl, Jacob looks like Brian, Reba looks like me, a bedroom for each, we could easily fit at our small kitchen table, and we would always have enough seats in a regular car. In many ways they more than fulfill my need for children. But after that moment so many years ago, I knew that it wasn't going to always be about my need for children but rather a child's need for me (though I feel more blessed than ever). Who needs tidy and uncomplicated?
Along comes S and I (I am not going to use their real names and can't post pictures here because this blog is not password protected). S is 3 and I is 1. This is our first official foster placement. I am overwhelmed - with love. I is as cute as can be. He brightens our days with his baby laughs and smiles. We marvel at the milestones he has already hit in just one month. Having a baby in our house again is fun. S is very active and high energy and there are times when I want to pull my hair out. But for every moment I am going potentially bald, she makes up for it with words or actions that melt my heart. Ah, 3, I remember you. The magic mercurial age of 3. You are just cute enough that your parents won't kill you. Bless her little heart. She looks up at me with her cockeyed pigtails at least once a day and says, "Momma, I love you. I like staying with y'all." And this is when I remember - have children of your own and love them and then open your heart and home to the children in this world that need a momma to love them. In the end, the love you give to a child gives back 1000 fold.