If you’ve ever been to a fostering class, you know that they fill you with the worst case scenarios. To expect the behaviors, the lashing out, emotional breakdowns, even after they’re safe in your loving home with you. You’re told to expect to bring home children who do not want to be with you, quite simply, because you’re not their parents. You’re not what they’re use to. Not what serves as their constant, however feeble that may be. You’re told to anticipate kiddos who, even if your home is safer, nicer, more sanitary, or free from abuse & neglect, that would rather be in what they’ve grown to know.
This weekend, we got our first respite placement &, in these two days, I’ve already learned a great deal about what they DON’T tell you in fostering classes.
I had a child dropped off in my home that clung to his foster mother & cried when she went to get his things. A child that was collapsed in a puddle of tears on my kitchen floor as she went out the door. Little did I know that, in less than an hour, he would hold that same admiration for me. I have not been able to leave a room since without the most pitiful cries echoing behind me. I have not been able to go pee, shower, or get a drink of water since without guilt crushing me like a weight from the high pitched terror in his voice bouncing off high ceilings.
When I deciphered the word, “mama,” & was quickly thinking of an age appropriate explanation as to where mama might be, I realized he wasn’t asking…he was looking up at me.
I never expected to pick up someone else’s child &, in less than a day’s time, be the one he wanted to hold him when he felt scared. The one he wanted to pat him as he fell asleep. The one he wanted to play with, eat with, & cuddle up next to.
What I expected was quite the opposite. I was taught to expect a child that had behaviorally acted out, was an understandable emotional mess, &/or screamed that they hated me…even when we both knew that they didn’t.
This experience, though it has just began, has been by far one of the most humbling experiences of my life. It has also reaffirmed the reasons my husband & I want to be foster parents. I look forward to learning more along the way.
My piece of advice so far is this: you will not learn everything you need to learn about fostering in those classes. They don’t-& can’t-touch on everything. This tiny toddler has already shown me some of what I never expected.