If someone asked me what I thought was the most important quality in a good foster parent, out of absolutely everything else you would assume — the ability to love, patience, having an open mind and spare time — the most important attribute of all undoubtedly is flexibility. I can’t emphasize this enough.
I am a planner. I have taken numerous personality/leadership seminars to determine my personality traits, including the Manpower Business Training Institute, the Animal Wheel, directions of the compass, and the list goes on. It is confirmed that I am a planner. That means I need to know what’s going on, I need to know what all the possible outcomes may be and I have to plan for them. Some call this Type A, worrier, “crazy.” Whatever you call it, I had to learn to cope once I became a foster parent.
Now what do I plan for? When things do not go according to plan.
Today, for example, I received a call informing me that our current baby girl’s visit with her biological parents had been changed. She needed to be ready in an hour, instead of three hours. I had big plans for those three hours: a nap, laundry, horrible daytime television, even writing a blog post or two. Now I had less time and more things to do: get her to nap, get her ready to go, wonder exactly when this changed, question why I wasn’t told, wonder how long to expect her to be gone and, above all else, worry about her while she’s gone for this longer visit. I also began to wonder how I will face the day she leaves.
Sometimes our baby boy will get picked up by a transportation van just to come home 15 minutes later — when mom or dad didn’t show up. He’s a baby so he isn’t too fazed by this, but imagine a child who is older who didn’t get to see his or her parents as planned. This means not only will your day be changed, but their day will be, too. It likely will mean a sad, mad day for your little one and a tiring day for you.
I don’t say this to scare you or stress you out. In fact, even writing this down stresses me out because I’m a planner, remember? But it’s okay — because now I plan for whether our babies are home or not. I plan for whether they stay and we get to adopt, or they go back to their parents. I plan for their future in my head and pray for their future in my heart. That’s a lot of planning.
I also plan for the next ones — the babies who we haven’t met yet, the babies who are going to be ours to plan a vacation with, the babies we get to plan college for, the babies we get to plan a wedding for — and those plans are going to be the best plans.