May is Foster Care Awareness month!
There is so much involved in foster care, so in honor of this month I am going to do my best to keep all of my posts related to the topic in some way or another. For day one, I’m going to start with the question I get all the time: “Why did you want to be a foster parent?”
I have personally been interested in foster care specifically since I was twelve years old. Prior to being 12, I wanted to adopt babies because I used to watch the birthing shows with my Mom and saw how painful it was. “I never want to go through that” I would tell anyone who asked if I wanted kids someday.
When I was twelve I met a group of siblings who had moved in with my Step-Father’s sister and found out they were foster children. The youngest was a three year old girl, a few months older than London, who was quiet at first but whiny when things didn’t go her way. I remember meeting them for the first time, the boys, 12 and 10, were kind of shy and didn’t have much to say at first. They had chores and other things to do, so they weren’t around much. I was told by their foster sister later in the day that they were “bad”, they got into a lot of trouble and that she thought the older boy was “ugly”. My “step-cousin” was very bitter as a child. She didn’t like having to share a room with a three year old, after having it to herself for so long. She was Mommy’s princess and always had to be the center of attention. She was constantly throwing fits, trying to get her foster siblings and step-brothers in trouble. Throughout the their stay she was nasty and rude to them. She said hurtful things about their biological parents and got them in trouble any chance she could but she rarely got in trouble. I would constantly tell my Mom what she said in hopes that it would change anything, but it didn’t. Her Mom would speak to her in a different way and believed the crocodile tears she cried for her.
The boys were constantly being told to do chores, a lot of which were farm chores like cleaning animal pens, feeding, chopping wood etc. Any punishment they had as a result of bad behavior resulted in more chores, which ended up taking away from any free/recreational time. The oldest boy was constantly getting into trouble, he was accused of stealing food, money, etc. He was always in trouble and rarely allowed to do anything except for school, sports and chores.
After a year of them being around, the oldest boy and I became “boyfriend and girlfriend”. We got to know each other a little, he talked about things that made me feel bad for him but he never opened up about anything deeper. Our relationship consisted of a lot of phone calls, hand holding and awkward silences when we were together. It was my first boyfriend, but it was complicated because of distance. I was eventually told the extent of what the kids went through from my Mother, who waited to tell me until I was older.
The oldest boy eventually ended up running away, he joined the marines and seems to be doing very well for himself. The younger boy and his sister eventually ended up returning to their biological Mother. He also joined the service and I’m not sure how their sister is. I’ve reconnected with the boys through social media a few times since we were younger. I’ve told them I was proud of them for what they went through and we discussed things that happened back then.
I strongly believe that the kids weren’t being treated as great as they could have been. They weren’t given the understanding that they needed at the time. They weren’t being abused or neglected, they always had a roof over their head and food in their bellies. Being a pre-teen, I feel like you always think you can do better than your parents or any adult for that matter. It’s an attitude thing for most kids, but for me it was deeper. I promised myself that I would be a better foster parent for someone someday, that I would be able to show love and compassion for them.
Being here today, with a fifteen year old foster daughter I feel as if I’m living up to the promise that I made to myself.