I recently joined some Facebook pages where I could talk to other members of foster families from around the world, and it has been nice to see opinions from various points of view. The other day, I asked everyone what questions they were most commonly asked about doing foster care. I was curious if the questions varied depending on where in the world you lived, but it seems that everyone hears the same misconceptions and gets the same crazy questions.
"How can you take in kids? Wouldn't you get too attached to them? How do you give them back?"
First, of course we get attached to the kids. If you don't get attached to the children you take in, then in my opinion, you shouldn't be a foster parent. You need to look at these children as your own, to make them part of your family and make them feel wanted. If you don't get attached to these children, then how can you really care for them and help them to grow as a person? They've just been ripped out of their home, away from their parents, and no matter how horrible the situation was for them, at least they knew their surroundings and what life would be like on a daily basis. When these kids are uprooted and placed into a foster home, they have no idea what they're getting into and they're scared and confused. It's up to the foster family to love them and care for them, to make them feel safe and secure, and to help them overcome the obstacles that they're facing.
If it were up to my parents, I'm sure they would have chosen to adopt every single child that has come into our home. Come on, I mean, no foster parent wants to "give back" the children they take in, I'm sure... but you know that the odds are in favor of the children being reunited with the bio parents, so you prepare yourself from Day 1 for the fact that you're only the child's temporary family, and if things change later on, then you'll deal with the situation then. There's a very fine line that foster families need to deal with: how to love the children just enough without becoming over-attached. It's a very difficult thing to balance, for the foster parents and for siblings like myself. But after a while, it becomes a natural part of life, and you learn how to walk that line.
Sometimes I forget just how weird my life is. Really, if you think about it, I have not had a "normal" childhood. I've said goodbye to more siblings than I've been able to watch grow up. It's not "normal" to have siblings coming in and out of your life at random times. But for me, foster care is exactly what's "normal," and I don't know if I even remember what everyone else's "normal" feels like. I was only three when we started on this crazy journey; I don't remember being an only child. Saying hello and goodbye to siblings is just what my life is all about. So yes, it's still extremely difficult, but for all of the foster families just starting out, I promise that it does get better over time, and you'll realize that this crazy life just makes you stronger. And remember, you're not doing foster care to make yourself feel good; you're doing it to help all of the children who need someone to love them.
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