Memories of a Foster Parent

I had a bad month, a REALLY bad month.

My job was falling apart, I was in a car accident, a family member was diagnosed with cancer and I think we must have spent more money keeping the driveway plowed than we made!
On top of all this, I had a problem with the Agency. These things happen. There are problems in all aspects of our lives, why do we expect everything to run smoothly with the fostering we do? Although everything resolves and we grow and move on - I've had a really bad month. Bad enough that one more added stress was enough to make me ask, "Why am I doing this? Why, when I can't find enough time to sit down and read the paper, am I giving my time to fostering?"

Foster parents often ask ourselves these questions. Usually it's while we are dealing with a crisis, (a crisis can be anything from a run away teen to crayon on the wallpaper). The answers to these questions are different for everyone.

I got my answer last weekend.

It was just another crazy Saturday. I was trying to cram everything we didn't do all week into one day and still have time to do the "family thing." I'm not sure how I ended up in the grocery store on a Saturday, let alone with my husband and three year old. It's those things I try to avoid at all cost, but there I was, marching in line with hundreds of faces, hoping for a cart with all four wheels going in the same direction. As our line moved, a row of faces flowed by. Something in my brain clicked as one face passed by and I did a double take. A familiar face? Yes!! When our eyes met we both looked startled for a split second and then came the smiles. I fought the traffic flow to get out the door. There she was with a big smile and sparkling eyes. We embraced, right there in front of the store. We stood for a few minutes just laughing and hugging. We caught up on each other's lives. "How are the kids?" "Where are you working?" "Oh, you got married, didn't you?"

I hugged her again, not ready to say good-bye, not ready to go back into the store like it was just another day. So we held onto each other for another moment, there, in front of the store, between the traffic going in and out, in our own private world. We held onto each other and we cried. We must have been a sight, two women, crying in the shopping crowd. But they couldn't know what we'd shared and how we felt about each other. This beautiful, smiling black woman and I had shared a child, from the age of four weeks. For over two years we raised our little boy together, foster parent and birth mother. That has connected us forever. I know this woman's soul and she, mine.

It's hard to get back to melons and toilet paper after a moment like that. We may never see each other again, but we are connected. So that's my answer this time. That's why I keep fostering. All of what we experience adds texture to our lives. Some people live lives that are like bare wooden floors, but mine is like a deep sculptured carpet. Sure, I have to vacuum, but it feels so good to sink my feet in and wiggle my toes!

Used with permission of the author.

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