Six months ago tomorrow my husband and I became foster parents. It was the day after the July 4th festivities. We had been up late watching all of our neighbors’ firework shows. We were leaving the house to take the dogs for a walk when Adam got a call, so I went on without him. I didn’t even get to the end of the block before he was waving me back. He said it was DHS calling about a placement: a sibling group of two, a two year-old boy and an eighteen month-old girl. Their caseworker told us about why they were coming into care and described them as “a bit of a handful.” I knew I was supposed to ask more questions, but I was so excited I said yes before I even knew what I was saying.
A few hours later the caseworker showed up on our doorstep and introduced us to D and K, handed over several bags of new clothes and a few diapers, and then had us sign some forms. We were stunned. I didn’t sleep at all the first two nights. I just laid in bed thinking, “There are two children sleeping down the hall and I’m responsible for them.” It was surreal. Every cry or cough or mumble sent me into a panic. “What if something goes wrong and I don’t know what to do?!…What if they miss their family and I don’t say the right thing?…What if…”
If I was worrying at night, I was completely freaking out most of rest of the time. The kids were more than “a bit of a handful.” They had never heard the word “no” before or had any kind of limits set for them, and they were not keen on the idea. There were tantrums at every turn, violent outbursts, nightmares, developmental delays, food issues, attachment issues, serious potty-training problems, non-stop whining, and on and on and on. Suffice it to say we unwittingly jumped into the parenting deep-end with two toddlers.
Six months in and there’s no end in sight. We are still dealing with many of the behavioral and emotional problems (and will likely continue to deal with them as long as we’re fostering). We do have good days though. Today the four of us sat at the kitchen table for an hour or so working on construction paper collages. That was a nice moment.
My challenge is to find happiness in the midst of the chaos and turmoil of foster parenting. I do like the kiddos and we have a lot of fun together, but I am far from happy. Most days I’m getting by. And I know Adam feels the same way. Our marriage is rock solid, but I don’t want another month to go by where all we can say is “we’re getting by.” I don’t know how much longer D and K are going to be with us, but they deserve to be in a happy house with happy parents. I want to feel like a confident and capable parent, and I want to be able to find joy in this life Adam and I have chosen. I want to be able to look back on our first year of parenting as a joyful and fulfilling time. So I’m working on it. I’m determined to find a way.