It's so common for people in the community to ask how many kids you have. I get it at the grocery store when the clerk starts counting how many boxes of cereal I'm buying along with the huge quantity of milk in the cart. It's a common question that I hear all the time. And I'm actually starting to love the reaction when I answer, "six". It cracks me up.
Then, depending on the situation, I sometimes share that we are a foster family. I do this because I feel like it is part of my ministry. I do NOT do it to embarrass the children. In fact, I typically don't share this information when the kids are around. And if I do share it I word it, "We are a foster family." I do not single out any children. I've had some wonderful conversations with people because I'm not afraid to say it. I've dispelled myths about what it means to be a foster family. I've helped educate people. And I think that is a very good thing. I've encouraged people that say, "I've thought about doing that myself." I'm not sure if anyone I've talked to has actually moved forward and gotten certified. But if I helped plant a seed, or if I've changed someone's perspective, I think I've done a good thing.
Six months ago I sat in the chair at my dentist's office. The doctor asked how many kids I have. I answered. And then, because the kids weren't there, I said, "We're a foster family so sometimes that number changes." This particular dentist was quite confused. He is one of those people that has no clue about foster care. (Which is really quite sad. He's a professional in a very, very poor community. I'm sure he encounters this more frequently than he thinks.) He literally asked me if I got the kids because someone just dumped them somewhere.
I had fingers in my mouth at the time and couldn't respond. But I was completely dumbfounded. How could someone not know how kids come in to Care?! His nurse seemed equally surprised and she rather curtly informed him that kids come in to Care because of abuse and neglect. The topic was dropped almost immediately. (Not that I could have done much -- fingers in the mouth and all. Conversations at the dentist are always so one-sided.)
Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Dentist Man again. This time I had Dude and Dolly with me. They were sitting in the corner of the room like wonderfully well behaved cherubs. The dentist walked in and shook my hand. Then he turned to the kids.
"These are your...um..."
I cut him off. I said, "Yes. These are my children."
"Oh, you've...um...had an adoption?" He seemed bent on discussing foster care again. He was tripping all over himself and seemed quite nervous.
"No. But these are my children."
"Oh. They are your fost..."
I cut him off again. "These are my children. I really try to not focus on the reason why they came to live with me. I don't like to draw attention to that part. It can be embarrassing to them. Just know that these are MY children."
Nervously, he ended the topic and got busy examining my teeth.
I knew that this would be an issue where we live. My legal family stands out everywhere we go. The population where we live is literally 99% Hispanic. Me...I'm glow in the dark white. Our mixed up family of kids does stand out.
That's part of the reason why I will share that we are a foster family. If I can show that our family is healthy, loving and kind...I can share the gospel. I often tell people that all we are doing is being led by God. But I'm tired of professionals that should know better stumbling all over themselves lately.
Now, on to some happy stuff....
While at the dentist's office, a lovely nurse set my two cherubs up with coloring books and crayons. She even went so far as to bring them each a clipboard so they could actually color while sitting in their chairs.
Dolly opened her coloring book to a word find page. While sitting there, she proceeded to point to nearly every letter on that page and identified them all correctly! In only nine months my little girl has learned the English language and has started being able to read it! And she's only four years old!! There is something to be said for the power of books. All of this is because we read to them every single day.
I'm so incredibly proud!!!