As a first time foster parent, I have a silly non-recommendation to make. It’s something that I have noticed while serving my former foster daughter. For anyone currently caring for a baby in the foster care system or even considering it (do it!), I think you’ll appreciate this. Note that this is not necessarily applicable for foster parents with teenagers in their care.
The key to what I want to share has to do with that word “former” I used to describe my foster daughter. While she continues to be a ray of sunshine (among many) in my life, she no longer stays at my house every single night, and we are no longer charged with her, legally. Her auntie has taken that mantle. As such, I cannot technically call her my “foster daughter” anymore since I am not actively serving as her foster parent.
Despite the legal designations, I must pause to share that ever since entering the foster care system, her birth mother has been right there for her daughter. No matter what anyone else was saying about her baby, she was the only one she saw as responsible for the baby’s ultimate care. She is an amazing mother. She works, takes the bus to get her daughter from daycare, feeds her and puts her to bed at her sister’s house and then goes home to sleep, waking up at 4AM to get ready for the whole thing again. It seems nuts that she is not allowed to just keep her daughter with her, full time.
This story about a program in LA made me feel better about the fact that when this mother of our foster daughter informed us that she was homeless, we couldn’t help but bring her into our home. This was soon after her daughter, our “foster daughter” became our “former foster daughter.” Given that her mother was now living with us, we began to feel like “foster grandparents” to the baby, somewhat unexpectedly, especially when we are all together at home, in the routine schedule of real life.
As the above linked NPR story suggests, more people of privilege could have the opportunity to host someone in need of housing. It sounds crazy. And it is. But it is an action that makes a real difference, which is unfortunately rare. As such, the experience returns multiples of the risk we invest to overcome discomfort, in favor of extreme generosity. We feel dumb lucky to have discovered this opportunity. Adoption led to foster care which led to this. It was 1AM, we were sleeping on sleeping bags in our empty apartment and our phones rang off the hook. I kept sleeping like a jerk, but my wife luckily answered the phone. A few minutes later was her first night with us which continues today. We did Chanukah together and now we are doing Christmas. The courts are giving us more and more days all together. Obviously we were lucky to be matched with a birthmother who was not doing drugs or otherwise acting in any very destructive way which allowed us to build trust sufficient to invite her into our home to live.
Read the rest of this article on Medium.com.