Today, my mom and I took my littlest sisters to a birthday party. It was so nice to see them play and have fun with the friends that they made last year in preschool. Though they are all in separate classes this year, and even split between morning & afternoon kindergarten, it is clear that the bonds they formed are strong as ever. The moms (and a grandma) of the kids are also close friends, and I love seeing all of them. (By the way, special shout out to the CMC!! I know some of you have been reading these posts!!)
Having foster children in my life has always made a major impact on me and my family. Whether they are coming or going, these children leave a mark on my family and become part of our lives for however long they stay. But it's not just our lives that these children impact. They also become part of the lives of our family and friends as well. This six-year-old girl doesn't know where her little friend went, or why she left. She just knows that she's upset about it, and cried for quite a long time after her grandma said that she was gone.
All of my little sisters' friends used to play with my foster sister. She was part of their group. She did everything with them, from playing on the playground after school, to eating lunch together during play dates. The families of these children knew my little foster sister. Everyone loved her, and embraced her as part of our group. Everyone was upset to see her leave. Being able to understand where she went and why didn't make the experience any less sad for the adults.
Often, when people think about foster care, they think about the impact that these children make on the foster family. To be quite honest, that's what I think about most often as well; how my family's life has been impacted by my 19 siblings. But these children leave a mark on everyone who they come in contact with, from extended family, to friends, to classmates if they are of school age. Through the ups and the downs, these people are there for it all, the same as the foster family. I don't know what we would do without these people in our lives, because they are such a support system through all of it, from the upheaval of our lives when the children come, to the state of emptiness that comes when the children leave. Embrace that support system, because the foster children you take in will become part of their lives too.
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**Please note, this post had to be re-written after it was originally published. I apologize to those who tried to read the post on 1/31/15, but somehow the entire second half of the post was deleted before it was published. Unfortunately, I hadn't saved the post to my computer yet, so I did my best to remember the general message of my post and typed it up again today, 2/1/15. Again, I apologize to those of you who tried to read the post and only saw a paragraph of it.**