We are into this pandemic for over a year. I hope you are able to get vaccinated. So many of us have health issues that prevent us from getting vaccinations; it is up to the rest of us to do what we can to achieve herd immunity. I had no problems with the first vaccine but the second one hit hard for about 24 hours with fatigue and body aches then it was all over. Since we may be facing vaccine routines to prepare us for a variety of strains of this virus, we may as well get with the program now rather than later.
There are so many moments in life that require this type of planning. We take out vacation insurance in the event we have to cancel our plans. We pay for life insurance for years while still quite healthy should tragedy befall the family breadwinner. We certainly don’t hope for such disruptive events. How does it go? “Man plans and God laughs.”
So what is the equivalent for a foster family? Maybe you get licensed as a fost-adopt home, hoping to create a forever family for a child or sibling group. Maybe you accept a placement after being told that the DCS plan is severance. Then, months or years later, the court revises the plan to reunification. How does one prepare for that?
Your gift to a child in need is the love you offer. Would you behave differently knowing the plan is reunification? Would you love less just to avoid the pain of loss? I don’t think so. We are responsible to protect our children from danger, whenever possible. How do you cope with the reality that the child you have loved so freely is returning to a family with a history of abuse or neglect?
I have some thoughts to offer as you make your preparations:
- When you understand what your presence means to the child in your care, when you deliver exactly what is needed for them to heal, to repair a brain conditioned for fear rather that comfort, then you know that that child has acquired a taste for being treated kindly with patience and understanding.
- When you have done your best, the child now can find others in their world to deliver moments of love and understanding thereby expanding their “therapeutic web” as Bruce Perry, MD, puts it. This is the nature of resilience rather than vulnerability.
- When you have learned to take care of yourself so you can take care of others, to be honest about what resources, both tangible and emotional, are available to you and how those resources will be consumed by the child in your home, you can be confident that you have what the next child needs of you.
- When you understand that your influence diminishes as any child matures, you know that the world of school and work can be hard on children and that the arc of their life is not really under your control. Finding one’s niche in the world is not guaranteed and some paths are not direct. You love cannot fix everything and cannot guarantee anything. Love anyway.
- Grief is a natural response to loss. Being a foster parent requires that you embrace loss and grief. For me, grief is a validation of the quality of the grieved relationship. Learn to be as kind to yourself as you are to others. Surround yourself with others who understand your decision to knowingly subject yourself to such sadness.
No magic pills, no sure-fire insurance policy. Just a wish that you find peace in this special work you do with children who need you so much.
- Check out the AZAFAP Event Calendar at https://azafap.gnosishosting.net/Events/Calendar. Become a Premier Member so you can access all of the events!
- Our Friday night Happy Hours continue. Some nights find me and a single other participant; others find a conversation among 4 to 6 people. The topics range from silly colloquialisms that add color to self-expression to what hobbies have us in their grip to what life has thrown in our path over the past few days or years. If you ever find yourself awake and wanting a bit of grown-up novelty, consider joining us (check your email for the link).
- On May 25th at 7:30 pm you can join a Zoom training with Amanda Glass, attorney, about discipline in the school setting. The registration link is on the AZAFAP calendar.
- This pandemic continues for those of us who understand what is at stake. Others seem to struggle to grasp that. Still others, like the teens in your home, have begun to climb the walls. You are in my thoughts. Reach out if you need an ear: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- I encourage you to check out what Dr. Bruce Perry has to offer. Find his thoughts at https://www.pcaaz.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/B21-Insightful-Caregiving-Intimacy.pdf and at https://www.neurosequential.com/covid-19-resources.
Thanks for listening. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others.