Recently our family said yes to fostering a sibling group of three (9, 6 & 10 month old). This put our family at 8 – 6 children ranging from 16 to 10 months old. We had never taken in a sibling group before and we were not exactly sure how we were going to make this all work. We had spent the last year and a half moving through the adoption process of our little Lucy, and had just adopted her when they arrived.
As an ambassador for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services, I was now going to practice what I preached. I frequently tell prospective foster parents that you don’t have to know how to do it all, or have a specific résumé to foster. You need to open your home, love the children and be part of the solution in their lives. Yeah, I know … easier preached than reached! So, I took my own advice and we learned each day how to best make a family of 8 work. Along the way I learned two very important things.
- Endure your decision.
- Accept the consequences of doing the right thing.
Choices or decisions can easily be made but can be hard to stick with. Things don’t go as planned, unexpected curve balls are thrown your way or you may lose support you once had. This is where accepting the decision you made, as the right thing, comes in. It’s not all angelic music and rainbows when you do the right thing. People don’t throw you a parade because you put yourself out there, in fact many days it feels like you were hit by the parade. Don’t let someone else’s lack of understanding, their opinions or a challenging day change your right to a wrong.
When people found out we now had 6 children the comments were not all positive or supportive. Some were critical and even a bit harsh. As family and friends have now met my children, have seen how our family makes this work and have realized “these children” are not the negative that has happened to them, it has softened some of the critics.
Why our family continues to foster
There is a story about a spider in India that best explains why our family continues to foster all of God’s children.
There was a a kind, quiet man who would pray in the Ganges river every day. Once day, after praying, he saw a spider struggling in the water and cupped his hands to carry it to shore. As he placed the spider on the ground, it stung him. The next day the same thing happened. On the third day, sure enough, the man spotted the struggling spider. As he bent to lift up the spider the spider said “why do you lift me day after day?” “Can’t you see I will sting you every time, because that is what I do!” As the kind man cupped his hands about the spider he replied, “because that is what I do!”
There are many reasons to do the right thing, but perhaps none is as compelling as the spiritual fact that it is what we do. To do what is right, to reach out, is far more important than the sting.
You may not have all the answers, you will make mistakes and there will be critics armed with judgments. Have a few good people, who will come alongside of you, whether they understand fully or not, and support you. At the end of the day be okay with what you do. The children don’t care how or why, they are just thankful you do!