I was talking with my agency supervisor the other day when she came to check in on Baby J and play for a bit. We were talking about a 2-fold issue the organization is having in placing kids right now. First, they are getting less referrals than usual for kids in general since the state is being pushed to place with relatives BIG time right now due to money issues. And second, they are having a difficult time placing the kids they do get referrals for into foster homes- Apparently foster parents in general are wanting very specific demographics in children and there is a large number of foster parents right now who are not interested in fostering, but fostering-to-adopt. This leads to an issue of being able to place babies especially in homes since the first goal for most babies is for reunification with family.
Fostering does not mean a guaranteed child… it’s kind of in the job description.
The supervisor was telling me that a lot of foster parents they are seeing do not want to do all the nightly wake-up calls and the crying spells and the feeding and the diaper changes and the exhaustion and put-your-life-on-hold issues that go into an infant… IF that baby is not going to stay… IF they do not get to see the benefits at the end of all the work.
I just looked at this woman and said “but… isn’t that what fostering is all about?!?”
All the down-and-dirty work… it’s kind of in the job description.
To me, fostering is exactly that… putting your all into a child so they can thrive, KNOWING you may never see the fruits of your labor.
I have had 8 children… 8 amazing babies in my home.
I have been blessed 3 times to see the fruits of those hard, long, exhausting days of infancy.
And 5 times I have planted a seed, given them the start they deserve and passed them on praying that my efforts were not in vain, praying that the months or year that I put into that child would give them the foundation they need to thrive… THAT’S kind of the whole job description of fostering.
I understand– no one wants to be the one always doing the hard part and never reaping the benefits. No one wants to put in hours of work at a job and then hand the credit over to someone else.
But a lot of times, that’s what fostering a child is like.
It’s not fun to help a baby detox and never get to actually enjoy the after-detox moments. It’s not fun helping a baby through colic and walk in circles bobbing up and down for hours with a wailing baby, never to get to enjoy post-colic moments. It doesn’t seem right to nurse a broken baby back to health and not be able to experience all the life this put-together child will have. It doesn’t often seem fair to rearrange your life. It doesn’t seem right to lose friends. It doesn’t seem productive to lose money from taking time off work for appointments and visits… to have that child LEAVE!
But it’s kind of in the job description.
AND it’s kind of the description of LIFE in general– We form connections with people everyday not fully knowing if that person will be in our lives forever. I had friends in high school, in college that I considered my “best friends” that I haven’t talked to in years now… but I never hesitated to make those bonds with them at the time. Teachers work with students every day never knowing if that student is going to make it to graduation, and never seeing the complete fruits of their labor. As Christians we are called to be witnesses of Christ to the world, but that doesn’t mean that we will ever personally see the product of the seeds we plant in someone’s heart.
Every day we make connections, friendships, bond with people never knowing if they will be lifelong or seasonal. But that doesn’t mean we stop making those connections, it doesn’t mean we stay closed off to the world because we don’t want to give a part of ourselves to someone without knowing they will be there forever.
The reality is that fostering infants (any child really) is HARD, it is WORK. But it is beautiful and it is purposeful. I may never see them use the skills they gained to the fullest extent, but I can have peace in knowing that they have been given that skill. I may never see them blossom into a teenager or adult, but I can have joy in knowing that they were given a good foundation to build on.
To “foster” something (the verb, the doing, the action definition of the word) means to promote the growth and development of; to encourage; to cultivate.
It’s the idea of planting the seed, starting the work, spurring something on.
And sometimes that is all fostering a child is… encouraging, cultivating and promoting their future… in order to hand them off– better than they were when they came to you.
And so, the way I see it is that the lost sleep, the lost friends, the lost money, even the possible lost sanity… it’s all worth it. Don’t turn a child away because you want to see the fruits of your labor… bring them in because you know that you can plant the seed that will produce the fruit in a precious child.
It’s pretty much the best job description ever!