I got a placement call last night. My first placement call in over two years. It came while I was signing a medical form for my daughter at urgent care, the first medical form I’ve been able to sign.
I felt my phone buzz and I interrupted my internal reverie on being a legal parent to see the name of the foster agency on the phone. I thought that was odd timing and didn’t answer. I listened to the voicemail later.
I said no to a handful of placements before my family ended up as it is today. They didn’t work out due to needs or timing. Heck, I said no to my own children once due to timing and somehow here we are today.
It was never easy, but I forgot how difficult it is. I didn’t even say no to this one, I just didn’t call back.
I don’t have the space. I don’t have the time. I don’t have the energy. We need to work on getting our little family secure and stable first. I need to go to work, as much as I hate the thought.
I thought it would be easier to say no from here, from this place of being a permanent and complete family. I thought it would feel more like, this is right for us and this is right for our family and these children have to be my priority now.
They do. But. This one was the age of my children when they were first taken into care. Suddenly I’m seeing it from the side of a parent and it’s not easier. It’s harder. It’s even more horrifying. What happens now? I know, in theory, what happens now. Someone else says yes. Someone else takes this little one. And hopefully that someone else is someone who will hold them and cuddle them. Hopefully that someone else will feel their fear and try to comfort them. Hopefully that someone else isn’t already as maxed out and as stressed as me. Hopefully that someone else isn’t one of the people that told me my son, who had missed months if not a full year of normal baby cuddling, had been “held too much.”
I’m angry. I’m angry because I can’t unsee any of this now. I can’t snuggle this one right now but I know a lot of people who could. And if my question to them was, “Want to hold a baby?” they would say yes. But when the question is “want to become a foster parent?” the answer is no.
The system is hell. We went through it. And there’s so much more than baby snuggling, but once you say yes to the baby snuggling the other parts fall into place (or something. Time has dulled the pain). So many people I know for whom this leap wouldn’t be as extreme as it would be for my family at this time. So many people who claimed they wanted to circle around us and support us and be a part of this, whatever this is, but who then fled the minute they learned it might take completing one actual errand.
This is wrong. All of this is wrong. Two years of foster care burned out my adrenal glands and broke my brain completely, and I thought it had used up all my emotions but apparently not, because suddenly, here they are again. Here’s something alive and on fire way deep down saying this is wrong. Someone must hold and love that baby.
I know it can’t be me. But could someone else step up? Maybe someone else that I know, one of the countless who like to fawn over my children and oh they’re so beautiful and oh they’re so precious and oh they’re so lucky (they aren’t), maybe one of you would like to try this now? Because they are all beautiful and they are all precious and they didn’t get lucky and neither did I. This is what it is, beautiful and precious children and it is hard but it is so much more than that.
I’m angry. I’m angry for this baby, and for the people that look at my children and pity them. My kids got out! There are kids who need your help and these are not them. They are beautiful and precious and oh isn’t it terrible and oh isn’t it awful, and really, no, it’s not. We’re good here. My kids have a family. The parts where we need help, you can’t help us, so please, move on. Move on to one of the many kids that needs what my kids already have. Because there are more. Don’t try to jump on whatever beautiful, precious bandwagon we’re on. Go start your own. Please.
For those who have, thank you. Because I can’t unsee them as my children.
For those who want to but have legitimate barriers, you are doing exactly what you can right now. What is possible will shift and become what is real and soon you will be sitting on your couch, looking at your carpet, remembering how it used to be clean.
For everyone else, please step up. If you’re waiting for some sense of “calling,” it both does and doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist but if you need it to, here it is. This post was it.