There’s a question that comes up often to seasoned foster moms like me.
And it’s one I love answering because I’m so certain of my response.
You’ve waited for what seems like a century to officially call yourself a foster parent.
You’ve lost feeling in your legs sitting through hours of required classes, developed carpal tunnel writing answers on repeat to all that homework and you’ve annoyed your closest family and friends with referral letters about your good character.
You’ve locked up the Ibuprofen and dish soap and even the dog. You’ve rolled your eyes during the online water safety course because you don’t live within a mile of water, let alone own a pool.
Everyone keeps asking if you have a kid yet. Well, do ya?
Now you’re just waiting and there’s so much silence on the other end.
Your phone is fixed on your hip and there’s a list of questions on a legal pad sitting on your desk. Folks have assured you that asking the case worker the correct questions will save your life and even change your answer.
Let me hand you a cup of comfort, friend, as you ponder the question that comes up again and again-“How do I decide to say yes to a placement?”
My opinion is just one of many, but it’s encased in experience and full of many yeses and not as many noes.
We have boundaries.
That’s it. There’s no number 2. I like short lists.
Gender and race don’t factor into foster care for us. These kids aren’t asking for someone to replace their mama forever…they’re simply in need of a safe place to stay; sometimes for always, sometimes just for today.
And we say yes to today.
There’s another question creeping-I know what you’re thinking.
What about sexual abuse? Or the “behavior problem” kid? Or the ODD, ADHD kid?
We don’t ask about that and here’s why-most likely, the folks calling you in the middle of the night aren’t privy to much information. They either don’t know or they’ll stretch the truth (read: flat. out. lie) to get a kid out of a cold office and into a bed for the night.
Case workers are over worked and under paid. Their job is hard-brutal, really.
The system is broken and the kids are too. You’ve already said yes to kids from hard places. Just assume they’re all neglected and abused in ways you don’t want to know but will soon find out.
When that first call comes, take a deep breath and remember your very first yes.
That’s the most important one of all.