As of last week, I felt like I walked the stage and received my diploma from "Hard Knocks University of Foster Care".
We almost can't help it, it's only human... when we help others, it feels good to feel appreciated. But what if doors are slammed at your face, texts are ignored, and awful things are said about you? Last week I felt that about half the lives of children in foster care that I worked with truly hated my help... I was either too annoying, too direct, too kind, or not strict enough. Gosh- I even questioned myself and wondered if I was a bad person.
So this entry is dedicated to all my foster parents, providers, child welfare workers, and anyone who is involved with children in the foster care system. It can be absolutely draining. If you're wondering if you should foster- please read this too, because this is the truth and you need to know.
Last week one (out of a few of my children) absolutely could not stand seeing me. I didn't know what about myself made this kid so mad. I asked, and I was shunned... OUCH. I called and there was no answer. I felt so helpless and I wanted to know so badly what I did wrong. Did I say something that triggered emotions? It was eating me alive that something as simple as my presence made this individual so angry. So I gave it a few days before I reached out again, when I did, the text messages were short, and what I felt like were kind words were answered with "ok".
I called my team immediately and I wanted to know what they observed that I didn't pick up. I went and re-read the treatment plan to see where I went wrong. Then I called my mom and she said: "it's not personal". Those words didn't feel very comforting because it felt truly personal... but she was right.
As a teen, I gave my foster mother the hardest time. I couldn't stand her help and nearly every advice she gave me was ignored. When I think back on how last week felt, I couldn't help but realize why I was the way I was towards my foster mom. She was kind, she was selfless, she was loving, and she was always there. But she a was all the things that remind me of what my biological parents WOULDN'T give me... and for that, I was angry, hurt, confused, and ashamed. I couldn't respond to the "I love yous " because I felt guilty for saying that to someone other than my bio parents. The times when they showed me I was their entire world, made me scared because I was never that to someone before. I pushed my foster mom away the most because my mother left me as a baby... and if my own mother didn't see value in me, why does she?
Guys, it's not personal. It's trauma.
Please don't feel discouraged when your child shows you anything outside of pure happiness to see you. There is a divine miracle that is being shined through you, that neither yourself or your kids can see right now. It takes time... years later my foster mom is the only person in the world that I want when I feel sick, afraid, or unsure. She took the time and just like planting roses to the ground... understanding all the thorns and care it will need... she did that to my life. That is what you're doing right now. I see your tired eyes and your aching heart, trust me... the roses will bloom.
Living over 18 places has taught me that every child deserves a home. Being a survivor of child abuse has taught me that every child needs to be heard. Growing up in foster care has taught me to bloom where I am planted. Being a mother and a wife has taught me to be resilient. Operating a charity has taught me that people really do want to help. Providing homes for youth in care has taught me that bad days does not mean a bad life. Advocating for children has taught me to be brave.