Fostering highlights the worst parts of me
When you become a foster parent, you get a lot of compliments about how awesome you are for doing what you're doing.
These comments are so kind, and we, as foster parents, NEED this kind of encouragement to keep going. But if I'm being honest... Foster parenting has highlighted the worst parts of my heart.
You know how people warn newly engaged couples that anything they dislike about their significant other now, will be magnified once they're married?
Well, that's exactly what we should be telling prospective foster parents as well.
I have to laugh because in all of our evaluations prior to being certified, my husband and I listed one of our greatest strengths as patience.
Turns out our patience had never really been tested before.
I'm ashamed at how many times I've lost my patience with my family in the past 6 months.
When my foster daughter (2) was seeking connection, it seemed like whining. I yelled and told her to be quiet.
When my biological son (1) woke up for the third time in one night because he was teething, I picked him up with a big sigh of frustration instead of comforting his pain.
When my other foster daughter (3) was triggered by a song in a movie, I didn't understand her seemingly irrational fear. I told her to suck it up and quit crying.
When my husband was trying to tell me about his day in a really long drawn-out story, as per usual with him, I acted as though his effort to communicate with me wasn't worth my time.
Going from zero to three children in a matter of a year, has been a HUGE adjustment for us. More so than I ever expected it would be.
I'm still working on having more patience.
Another area I didn't realize I needed to grow in was giving grace.
As an Enneagram 9, I have this ability to see things from others' point of view. In other words, my empathy meter is off the charts.
But apparently everyone can't see things from others' point of view?? I always thought people just chose not to entertain different ways of thinking until I learned about the Enneagram more...
ANYWAY, I learned that I did not have nearly enough empathy and understanding towards birth parents, which made it really hard for me to support reunification like I'm supposed to be doing.
Funnily enough, I thought this would be another area of strength for me.
Turns out, it is so much harder to have empathy for birth parents who are going through hard times when you've fallen in love with the child their bad choices have hurt.
For several months I was mad at the girls' birth mom. I couldn't fathom how any mother could let her child be hurt like they had been. My stomach was constantly in knots thinking about the trauma they have experienced.
These feelings haven't gone away, and I don't necessarily want them to. These feelings of indignation are what fuel my fire as a foster parent. No child should EVER have to experience what some of these children have.
But the shift came for me when I realized the birth parents/adults I was so angry at for hurting these precious children, were once the same children I would have taken in and loved as my own.
You'll hear me say this often, but, the only thing that separates me from them is privilege.
I grew up in a loving home. Sure, my parents had their own issues, but nobody ever hit me. Nobody ever abused drugs in front of me. Nobody ever withheld food from me. Nobody ever sexually abused me.
This isn't true for so many birth parents within the foster care system.
Like I said, these feelings of anger toward birth parents for the choices they have made have not gone away. And I do believe they should be held accountable for their actions as adults.
But, now, when it comes right down to it, I choose love -- because it is a choice.
I have no right to cast stones. After all, Jesus died for them too.
These are the ugly parts of my heart. The parts, I would rather nobody see. However, I promised myself to be real with you guys about our journey -- to not sugar coat it.
While I feel as though I have grown in these areas in the last 6 months, I still have a looooooooooong way to go. I'm a work in progress. I'm a little unfinished.