I only have about 15 minutes until I need to pack Caleb up into the truck to head to pick up my mom and then head to the agency for his meeting with his parents. I have started to take my mom with me to the meetings because I don't like that I have to take Caleb out to the parking lot and then buckle him into his car seat all out in the open while I am by myself while his parents are around. I don't know them from Adam, I have no idea what they might or might not do, I just never felt safe with that. I guess I assumed that one of the Bethany workers would accompany Caleb and I out to our car and see to our safety while we were there... not the case.
** Stay tuned for a Bethany Christian Services rant in the near future.... to say that I am pleased with working with them so far in the last 3 weeks is a gross exaggeration. **
Foster Parenting is MUCH harder than I could have ever anticipated. The amount that it takes away from normal life and the amount that it is different from normal parenting (parenting a child that is yours to keep) is astounding. It's different than babysitting, because this kid is here, in your house, 24/7. The challenges that come along with parenting someone else's child are not even able to be numbered... and we are learning that very quickly.
The challenges that come along with taking a child into your home and not being able to bond for permanency are numerous too. Jack and I are taking it day by day, and trying to squeeze in time to remember that I am pregnant with our son... I am trying to steal a few minutes to myself every day to enjoy the little baby kicks that are coming in right below my belly button. We try to take a few minutes before we fall asleep to just be husband and wife, if only for a few minutes each day.
People will naturally say, well that's what happens when you have kids... but I whole heartedly disagree. When you have children, whether you birth them or adopt them, you know that they are a permanent fixture in your home. You have the ability to think about and plan for the future. With a foster placement, there is no future that you can see, you have no idea how long they might be with you... so planning for things like, how will our foster son adjust to us having a baby? Are things that we don't know if we do or don't need to worry about.
I've started to stress about how I am going to breastfeed our baby... Mostly because I have no idea how I'm going to run around after Caleb and care for a newborn at the same time. I am also stressing about the amount of screaming that happens around this house... there are lots and lots and lots of hissy fits that come from Mr. Caleb. I'm worried about how that will effect what little sleep Jack and I will be getting with a newborn and if it will affect how much sleep our newborn gets.
And again, before you say that two year old hissy fits are normal, I am just going to laugh at people who believe that a child who was raised in a stable, normal environment his whole life is exactly the same as one who has not. That is the most ridiculous statement ever. Yes, Caleb is a two year old... but he is far different from other two year olds. He has no permanency in his life yet, he doesn't know just like we don't know if our home is the place where he's going to grow up.... He doesn't know anything for sure... and that is a LOT to put on two year old's shoulders.
Anyway, I'm just going to cut this short... Long story short... it is VERY difficult to have a foster child. He's a fun kid when he wants to be and 99% of the time, he's a lot of exhausting work.
One more little statement... again... before I get one silly comment from a parent of a two year old or a parent who has had a two year old... "Two year olds are all rotten, thats why they call them terrible two's." Yup... for YOUR two year old... every bad habit that they have... they learned from YOU. Every single thing that we have to discipline Caleb for, We have NO clue where he learned it because we were not responsible for him up until less than 3 weeks ago. If your child hits, it's likely because he saw you hit... if Caleb hits, we had nothing to do with that. So, again, don't tell me it's the same. Because it's not the same.
I'm also dealing with the stigmas that come along with Foster Parenting. The media along with many people that I know think that Foster Care is the worst thing that could happen to a child. Oookay, as if the foster parents are the monsters in this situation. What happened to get the child placed into foster care was the worst thing that could happen to a child. Just saying. There are so many horror stories about foster homes... but what I don't get is why aren't there horror stories about how the child came into a foster home?? Children do NOT get taken from their homes without warrant. I just don't like the idea of the concept of Foster Care being the bad thing in society... Foster parents open their homes to children who have no place else to go. They feed them, bathe them, care for them 24/7 and lose sleep over these kids... They drive them all around town to their doctors appointments, meetings with social workers, meetings with parents and family members... It's unending the amount of work that goes into being a foster parent... so before you judge one... Take a walk in their shoes for 24 hours.
And I'm not trying to talk myself up here... I'm just saying this is the kind of stuff that I have been dealing with for the last 3 weeks.
It's about time for me to take off and pack Mr. Caleb into his car seat and drive an hour away for a 2 hour meeting.
I hate to give foster parenting a bad rap, or try to discourage someone from doing it... but I feel like we were absolutely lead to believe something that wasn't true. The amount of information we have and the amount of turmoil that our life goes through with a foster placement was never accurately described in a few short hours of classes. (Maybe 15 hours? I don't even remember how many hours of classes that we had to take.)
As far as the whole aspect of why we were foster parenting in the first place.... yup, we still feel like we are called by the Lord to care for orphans and widows. We still feel called into service and called into action. And service is WORK... and WORK is not supposed to be easy and we know that. And every thing that we deal with and stress and worry about on Earth is building up our blessings in Heaven... and we know that too... all of these hard days (and nights) for weeks... we do as a service to the God who created us. It is not Caleb's fault the situation he's in, or for his behavior that he exhibits, or for the things that we have to do for him as required by the State of Michigan. Caleb is still one of God's children that He loves dearly and because of that, WE love Caleb dearly... and we remember while he is screaming for the 8th time in the middle of the night that he doesn't want to go to bed, that God loves this little boy... and this is not for nothing what we are doing.