I haven’t been writing much lately, because I haven’t had a lot of time what with two babies, working full time, and commuting. And they’re foster babies, so they require an awful lot more time (more on that below). During the rare weeks where we only have one or two visits (as opposed to 4-6), I’m always so grateful to not be at work all day and then spend my evening running all over the place. I think to myself, “this is what it must be like for a normal family, just go to work then come home and do normal stuff” and I get so jealous. That leads me to what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately:
If you are infertile and you want to adopt, you should not be a foster parent.
I said it, and I mean it. It’s funny, because I thought I did my research before becoming a foster parent. I talked to people who fostered-to-adopt and they all told me how wonderful it was, etc, etc, etc. Well, none of them knew that foster care had changed in the time since they had adopted. It’s not foster-to-adopt anymore. The goal now is ALWAYS reunification (except in a few very special cases), and adoption is a last resort. As the foster parent, you are considered an interim caretaker. The babies you’re taking care of might think that you’re their parent, but you know better. You know the situation is just temporary. Even if you do eventually get to adopt one, the first 6 months or year you spend taking care of the baby isn’t the same as a real parent’s would be – you’re not bonding with your forever child, you’re just providing them with a place to live and as much love as you have to give, knowing that they’ll probably be gone by this time next year (that doesn’t mean you don’t bond with them at all, but it isn’t the same). And until they do leave, you spend your days taking them to visits with family, who may or may not show up, counseling appointments, doctor’s appointments, social worker visits, lawyer visits, parenting classes (so their real parents can practice), and on and on. And you’re missing so much work to do it, and you or your partner is always gone in the evening because of a pick-up or drop-off, and there’s no more family time. You spend all your free time driving kids around, and no one cares if it’s convenient for you. Sure, you get a reimbursement, but it’s not even close to enough to cover your expenses. They’ll tell you that you can be a foster parent even if you work full time, but after you and your partner both getting in trouble for missing so much work, you know it’s not true. They’ll tell you that foster parents shouldn’t pay for anything out-of-pocket, but you’ll see soon enough that all those promised subsidies just aren’t there when you need them (who in the world can possibly afford to be a foster parent for the money???). You’ll want to do your best for these kids, but you’re draining your future to help them in the present, and soon they’ll be gone, and your house will be empty again.
It is not the responsibility of the infertile to save the world’s children. The deeper into this I get, the more I realize that it’s the people who already have their own children who should be doing more. (Note: I don’t believe anyone should feel like they have to take on more than they are capable of, even though I detest the attitude of so many fertile people that their own children are so important that they can’t help out other children in need. This was recently hammered home to me by a childless friend-of-a-friend online who berated me for considering international adoption when there are (apparently) so many children in need in our own country and for preferring to adopt a baby. In her view, if I wasn’t adopting an older child from within our borders, I was a selfish jerk who didn’t deserve to have kids.)
I’ve said before that this is the last time we’ll foster, but I’m pretty sure this time I mean it. For one thing, I’ve been missing 1-2 weeks of work PER MONTH to deal with the kids, and that’s just not sustainable. And I’m so incredibly lonely. We’ve been taking the kids to the climbing gym on the weekends, and they LOVE it. They get excited as soon as we walk in. On weekend mornings, a lot of people with little kids go, so it’s really fun for them. All the kids play on the exercise mats, and build and destroy towers made of yoga blocks, play with the foam rollers and the balance balls, and a good time is had by all. The last time we went, I talked to a women with a son whose age was right in between N and R, and I thought to myself that she was a perfect person to get to know, because we obviously had things in common. But then I remembered that it’s likely we wouldn’t have these babies anymore by summer. It’s impossible to make mom friends when your kids are temporary. And we’re not having a lot of luck making friends with other foster parents either. A lot of them are religious, and we’re not (and I have no problem with religious people, but they already have their “tribe” through their churches). The ones in our town tend to be stay-at-home moms too, while the working moms live in the other towns in our county. And on top of all that, the fact that I’m so desperate these days to be done with fostering makes it hard to even try to be friends with them, knowing that the one thing we have in common will probably disappear by the end of the year. And I’m so busy with work and foster parent obligations, I don’t even have time to make friends. You’d think I wouldn’t have time to get lonely, but that’s not really how it works.
Anyway, in case you couldn’t tell, I’m a little burned out on foster care. I love these babies, more than anything in the world, but they’re not mine, and they probably never will be.
In adoption news… We finished the text for our profile book (FINALLY) and we’ve booked a consultation with a photographer a week from tomorrow, and I really, really need to pull out my old laptop that doesn’t have a working screen or battery and go through the hard drive to find all my pictures. At least having the text done gives me an idea of what pictures to look for.