Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How this has affected my kids - Part 1

A reader has posed a question to me. grkanga asked:

My children were adults when I fostered so I didn't have children of my own impacted by the legal chaos like yours have been. I would be very interested in you posting about how your children have been affected by the entire process... from start to this horrific end. I know SOME foster situations work well. I believe in the concept of supporting biological parents being able to care appropriately for their children..... but the system has some HUGE flaws when it is common for children to not have permanency for 5-10 years. Please you are able without increasing the pain to you and yours.
I'm going to answer on behalf of Herman first.

When we started fostering, in Iowa, Herman was right around seven years old. He was a very happy-go-lucky kind of kid that really rolled with the flow. He was an only child for the most part. But over the course of his seven years prior to fostering he had shared us (his parents) with several different people. My sister stayed with us for awhile. She was a young adult and didn't require my parenting per se. But still, she was there and it changed our family dynamics. Another time, my teen-aged cousin stayed for several months. Herman was four when she came. In an unofficial way, we were fostering my cousin who we hoped would take the opportunity for a fresh start and let go of some of her very bad habits. Unfortunately, my cousin was unable to make different decisions. Her stay with us involved many events that occur when you foster (running away, smoking, police involvement, etc.)

Herman also has a half-sister who lives out of state. He became an "official" little brother when that same half-sister lived with us for a year (the year prior to us starting our fostering adventure). Herman was never phased by this. Herman wanted siblings very much and he loved having his sister there! We welcomed his sister for the year and we were sad when she left. But through it all, Herman just rolled with the flow.

Our first "real" fostering placement was a little boy who was right around 18 months old. He stayed with us for six months. It was a text-book fostering case for the most part. He came. His parents worked their plan. They did weekly visits. Visits got bumped up to overnights. The boy went home to his parents.

Honestly -- I've got no way to explain things other than to say that Herman went with the flow.

When we got the call that TT had been born and we were going to get to adopt him, Herman's response was almost like, "'s about time." He shifted into the role of a permanent big brother perfectly.

Herman just rolls with the flow.

When we decided to get our license here in Texas Herman didn't mind. This time around he was older and you'd think he'd have more of an opinion on things. But really, he didn't. He knows why we do this and he shares the passion that we have of wanting to help families. Well...that might be pushing it. I don't know if he personally shares our passion. But he fully understands it and agrees with it. When we asked him how he felt about us fostering, he didn't care one way or the other. He didn't even mind if we took in teenaged boys. Again...Herman just goes with the flow.

As we cared for MissArguePants and TurtleTurtle, Herman didn't get too involved. He played outside with them some. But in the house, they caused so much havoc that he just stayed out of the way. When they left we all breathed a sigh of relief.

Pumpkin made Herman uncomfortable. Caring for a special needs child was a new experience for all of us. Herman helped with Pumpkin when it was appropriate. But he didn't seek out opportunities to get involved. Jokingly I told Herman more than once, "Pumpkin isn't contagious." He was never mean to her though. He just tried to avoid her.

And then there was Dude and Dolly.

They became full members of our family. Everybody was involved. Everybody played. Everybody interacted. Herman seemed to mimic my emotions most of the time. He got angry at The System. He got angry at bio parents that don't want to do their part. He loved the children. He was the best big brother any kid could ask for.

When they left Herman tried to get all macho. He detached from everybody. Unfortunately, their departure coincided with us (his parents) discovering a horrible lie Herman had been weaving for quite some time. It's hard to say what was fueling his intense emotions. He was very upset that the kids were gone. He was also very upset because, as a male, he wanted to protect me and my grief was painful for him. And he was also very upset at himself for his choices and how he got caught.

Now that we're a month out he's pretty much back to normal. He talks about Dude and Dolly fondly. He's still furious with The System. And he can smile knowing that deep down I want to help more kids. Laughingly he says I'd adopt two-dozen if I could.

In true Herman fashion...he just rolls with the flow. He knows we're done fostering for now. He knows that if we moved out of Texas I'd probably want to foster again. And he knows that if the situation presented itself, I'd adopt if possible. He understands my passion. I know he's been influenced by what we did. It sounds all hokey when I write it out here -- but he really has grown and matured through the process. Morally he's a wiser person. Overall, he's OK with everything. He just rolls with the flow.


Kylee said...

Growing up with foster siblings, I love this. Such a unique, special, challenging, rewarding opportunity for your boys!

grkanga said...

Thank you for responding to my question...and for making it a series acknowledging/showing every child has different reactions to situations.
Sending good wishes to Herman in understanding his humanity and learning what we can and cannot do for other people.
My fingers are crossed for Dude and Dolly, their understanding that receipt of their belongings is a concrete expression of your family's love, and Massive hopes that 'Grandmother Dallas' can admit to herself that your love for them is and was positive. That you are not villains in this situation ~ but people who love Dude&Dolly.