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I'm Learning

I'm learning now how to be a parent, not just a parent but a parent to children who have experience so much trauma. There are no parenting books that can every prepare you on becoming a parent traditionally or non-traditionally. While having to continue to learn the ups and downs, the ins and outs of being a parent, I had to learn how to separate my own personal trauma from what I needed to do for my children. Each day presented itself with a new challenge. Each day gave me a new chance to be better than what I was the day before. Even though these opportunities were presented to me, I still had to continue to learn. The biggest lesson of being a foster parent, whether you are on SOS village or in your own home, is understanding the attachment to the kids with the high possibility of them leaving you one day.

The children in my home came in with a goal of reunification, meaning returning home to their biological mother once the courts felt that she had reach their level to care for all of them safely. This also meant that visits with biological parents will move from supervised to unsupervised to overnights then eventually returning home. As a foster parent I had to learn that the supervised visit meant also that the biological parents may put on a show so that nothing can be reported negatively against them. The visit will go as smooth as silk where the kids will always be super excited to see their parents but then can return back from said visits with behaviors that I as the foster parent would have to deal with. I had to learn that I became the enemy after these visits because the kids wanted to go with their mom but had to come back to me. The cries of not wanting to be here, the threats of I am running away from a 6 year old (another story that I have to tell you later) to the purposely doing all the things that you know will get you in trouble. This definitely was something that I had to learn how to adjust to while also learning how to counteract the behaviors once the children returned from their visits. There was a sense of ease I felt when the visits were supervised because it left no room for any lies to be told regarding the care and treatment of the kids that they were receiving from me. But things will soon change once the visit transition to unsupervised and now I needed to learn something new.

Almost a year in and the kids have unsupervised visits with their mom. I would drop the baby off to her to connect and bond with a hour before her visit with all the kids started. I would send the baby with her diaper bag and her car seat. Once I picked up the other kids from school I would drop them off with mom. All their visits were still being held on the village just not supervised. The kids would be excited to be with mom but I soon begin to learn that unsupervised visits meant the opportunity for all kind of stories to come into play of allegations. I learned as soon as I noticed and started questioning what was going on at the visits. The kids were returning home with homework still needing to be completed, still being hungry, the baby coming home soak and wet, and even after one visit my oldest son (I called all the kids son/daughter because we were a family) came home with one of his ears split and bleeding. As I begin to learn how to navigate through the unsupervised visit I had to quickly learn how to keep caring, loving, smiling and being a family all while under our first investigation.

People think that opening up your life to being a foster parent is about money, truly that was and still is false for our lives. The reality of it all is that you open up your life to all the good and bad of fostering. The good of helping children who are caught in the mishaps of adults decisions to the bad of being accused of mistreating the same children you are caring for. This was a lesson that came all so fast. I was called to the office by my Director to inform me that there was a hotline called made regarding physical abuse to 2 of the kids. It was reported that ex-husband (hubby at the time) had been punching the 6yr girl and the 5 yr old boy in the chest. Now if anyone and even if you know the size of my ex-husband, it was pretty clear that his punches would have cause serious injury to the kids. At this moment of hearing all of this I immediately forget about what I had learned regarding having allegations bought on you. I walked out the office and told them they can have these kids I'm gone. This was all too much. Here we go, living through our first investigation that will shape and change our lives. I was at a state where I did not want to learn anything anymore, however, it was this moment that I knew God had a different type of lesson that we needed especially me needed to learn that I wasn't going to be able to learn from any training.

The next morning, the doorbell rings and standing there is a DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) investigator. She was there to start the investigation of the allegations. This the beginning of the longest 60 days that I think I have encounter and

the biggest lesson we had to sit through being foster parents.

To be continued....

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