Friday, May 24, 2013

How has this affected my family?

richandangi commented on my "Welcome" post:

I would love to know more about your family. We are thinking about fostering and I would love to know how this has changed your family. I have three teenagers and I am really curious as to how fostering may affect them.

This is such a difficult question to answer. I have started this particular post at least three different times. Each time I struggled with what to say.

I mean...yes...foster care has undoubtedly changed my family. Some of it has been for the good!! My children have learned to think outside of their own little world. They understand giving on a much deeper level. They know what it means to help others without expecting anything in return.

My kids are compassionate. My kids want to help. My kids know they are a part of something wonderful.

But on the flip side....

This foster care journey has been incredibly difficult!

And this is where I struggle with what to say. I don't want to diminish the good. I seriously don't regret fostering at all. But it has been so very, very difficult. Schedules are constantly turned on end. Trips and visits to places have been cancelled. It's difficult to let other kids come over and play sometimes. Those things aren't always good!!! Sometimes they really suck!

When we cared for MissArguePants and TurtleTurtle every moment of every day was pretty much off the charts. Those two turned our entire household on its end. But then again, SEVERE abuse, neglect and torture kinda messes with a kid. It wasn't their fault that they couldn't function in a family setting. They had never been given a family before. Still, it was really hard on me as a parent and my kids to navigate the waters of extreme tantrums and total dysregulation almost all of the time.

Pumpkin offered up a different kind of fostering experience. She required a tremendous amount of my time because of her special needs. With Pumpkin though, I think my kids really learned how to accept others no matter what. Bart was fiercely protective of Pumpkin – even going to her classroom at school to make sure the teachers were taking good care of her. He never cared that she couldn't talk and often didn't respond to him at all. Bart loved on Pumpkin every single day.

And now we have Dude and Dolly. Caring for the cherubs has been the easy part. However, navigating this case with the State has really done a number on my family! Having to follow crazy rules, being investigated, and living with the fact that the State continually wants to work against what is best for the cherubs is very hard!!

I interviewed each of my kids. These are their thoughts:

Bart:
It makes it harder for me to do things I want to do. 'Cause I might want to go on vacation...but we can't. I like that we get to help other people. I like to help kids.

TT:
We can't go on vacations as much. We get to meet new kids. It's fun.
There can be lots and lots of anxiety in the house. There are lots of lawyers and the judge and things you probably don't want to deal with. There are things you never thought you have to deal with. You have to go to visits. You have to go to court.
You get to help God's children. You get to do what you're supposed to do.

Herman:
Well...it's changed the way we have to think. Once you understand what these kids have gone through...it changes you. It changes pretty much everything. You have to change the way you talk and act.
Having more kids in the house affects how often I get to go places if I need a ride. Mom doesn't always want to load everyone up to take me places.

This is what Herman told me a couple weeks ago when I asked him how he felt about intervening and trying to adopt Dude and Dolly....
I don't really care either way. I mean, yeah, I'm going to get a new brother and sister. But it doesn't really affect me as much.
And that's honestly how fostering has affected my teenager. Because he's older and more independent, he's not directly affected by some of the things. He's not sharing his toys. He doesn't need as much of my time. He loves Dude and Dolly with all his heart. He's a great help. But it hasn't exactly turned his world on end.

Honestly...as you can tell from Bart and TT, having restrictions on where we can go is what bothers us the most. When we went to training we were told that we could travel anywhere within the state of Texas for up to 72 hours without having to get permission. Unfortunately, that is far from the truth in our part of the State. It's not like we are jet-setters taking expensive trips all over. Where we live, even though it's more restrictive than the minimum standards, we need permission to take the cherubs out of the county for even just a day trip. That's pretty restrictive.

Our fostering journey was RADICALLY different when we lived in Iowa. The restrictions were so fewer!!!!! We were treated with respect. Everything seemed to work just like how it was explained to us in the trainings.

Here in Texas though, it's rough. We all tire of the crazy rules.

I feel like this post is particularly choppy. I don't know how to edit it because if I start, I'm sure I'll erase everything and try to write it again. Fostering has been oh so incredibly difficult!!! But still, I don't regret any of it. Honestly, I don't. On the flip side, I cannot wait until Dude and Dolly's case is over so I can be D.O.N.E. fostering!! And on the flip side of that, all it takes is for me to read one story of a kid in need and I'm right back wanting to save the world!

Believe me when I say, how fostering has changed my family transcends words.

1 comment:

aka. Mimi said...

I LOVE that this post is all over the place! I think that's how MOST experienced foster parents feel. Any given hour of any given day, my answer to the "are you going to foster again after this one?" question will be completely different. I have a love/hate relationship with foster care. So far though, the "love" part of that equation has always won. :-)