Saturday, December 5, 2015

Letter to a Foster Child

I did NOT write this, although I wish I had - the origin can be found HERE

Dear past foster child,
How are you doing?  Do you ever think of us, your temporary foster family?  We think of you.  You probably had more of an impact on us than you know.  Odds are, we will never meet again, but there are so many things I want to tell you.
If you were ever in a foster home where you felt loved (or were even in one that you didn’t feel loved, it is still possible you were loved, but your family didn’t know how to show you love the way you wanted it, or you weren’t in a place to receive it), this message is for you.
We had several of you come stay with us – some for just a few short days, but some for months.  We remember the day you first came to us.  There was always the anticipation and flurry of activity after we got the call.  We rarely knew much about you, because we were given information on a “need to know” basis.  This meant that we had to guess at a lot of things, like what you liked to eat, how you liked to be held, how you went to sleep.  We rarely got it right in the beginning.  We put you in a bed at 8, and you were used to staying up until you crashed on the floor around 11 or 12.  We fed you baked chicken and milk, you wanted chicken nuggets and Dr. Pepper.  You still took a bottle at night, but we didn’t know that, so you cried every night as we tried different ways of rocking you to sleep.
We didn’t understand you, but we tried.  We tried to piece together what you wanted or had been through by things you said or things the caseworker told us.  Some of you arrived hyper and wired and seemed ready to take on the world (and us!).  Some of you arrived “blank”.  We knew there was a person inside, but we couldn’t find you at first.  Then slowly, we got to know you.  One day, there was a spark.  You showed us a piece of your soul.  We cried for joy when that happened; you were so full of promise!  We started to have more fun together.  You also got more comfortable with us and started to rebel.  It made it harder for us, but we were glad because we were starting to see the real you.
The longer we had you, the more we loved you.  We tried to show you, but we know it didn’t always work.  We are a family too, full of imperfections.  We are sorry that our daughter freaked out when you sneezed on her at the dinner table.  I mean REALLY FREAKED OUT.  I know she apologized to you later, but it must have been scary at the time.  I am sorry for giving you multiple directions then being frustrated with you when you didn’t follow them.  It took me a week to figure out that you really didn’t understand. I thought you were defying me on purpose.  We are sorry it took us a few weeks to realize your rash was scabies.  The caseworker told us it was eczema.  We are sorry you got your immunizations twice.  The doctor’s office hadn’t recorded that your mom had done it the week before you came to us.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.  We have a lot more “I’m sorry’s” that we would tell you.
We want you to know that we still think about you and talk about you.  We wonder where you are at.  We play the question game as a family – How old would he be now?  Then we go on, “What do you think she looks like?  Remember how beautiful her hair was?  Remember how hard it was to comb the tangles and how much she hated us brushing it?  What grade would he be in?  Do you think his parents stayed together?  I wonder if he’s broken any bones yet?  (He used to climb on everything).  Is there someone loving him?
We also reminisce.  We talk about something you did that was cute or funny or scary or naughty.  Remember how much she liked “so big”.  Remember when she was so sick and we stayed up all night with croup then finally took her to the emergency room because we were so scared?  Remember her favorite movie she wanted to watch over and over and over?  Remember how he would sing in the car?  Remember how she would yell when we left the library?  Remember when she ran from us in the store and we couldn’t catch her?  Remember how he would randomly hit whoever sat next to him in the car?
We still get out your pictures and ooh and awe over you.  We pray for you.  We hope you are doing well.  We also want you to know that we would have kept you if we could.  Sometimes, we knew it was really best that you went back to your family.  They loved you and just needed the time to figure things out.  They didn’t know how to parent or had to take care of an addiction.  Other times, we sent you home and were afraid for you.  We didn’t think your parents were ready, but it wasn’t up to us.  As much as we loved you, we didn’t have any rights to you.  We gave our opinions, but we never knew if they were ever taken into account (It usually didn’t seem like it).  We did what we could, but it never felt like enough.  Sometimes we think about what we could have done differently.  Would it have made a difference?  We don’t know.
We have talked about finding you when you turn 18.  Most of you were young though, so you really wouldn’t even remember us.  We do want you to know that we did not choose to abandon you. You were in a system where we were not allowed to be in contact with you after you left us.  If we knew your parents, we tried.  Sometimes they let us stay in your life, sometimes they didn’t.
No matter what you take from this, we want to you to always know that we still love you and always will.