It’s the night before the boys’ court hearing and I just dropped off them off with their mom. Mom talked to her lawyer, and she will be granted custody again tomorrow. The paperwork will be done in about a week, and I find myself reflecting on the last eight months now that the boys are finally going home.
Many people have asked and wondered along the way, “How can you not be devastated that the kids will leave to go home one day?” “Why don’t you secretly want the kids’ moms to fail?” “How come you have no judgment toward these moms?” “How can you just let go of these sweet little kids?”
These questions assume that I don’t care, I have no heart, I must not love the kids or I’m not a compassionate person. But if you knew me personally, you’d know it’s quite the opposite. I’ll tell you why I’m not devastated, why I’m thrilled for the kids to go home with Mom, and how I wish all foster kids could have a happy ending like these boys.
Foster care’s primary goal is to reunify kids with their parents. When we foster parents sign up, we know exactly what we are getting into. It’s up to us whether we embrace this process or not. I decided to embrace the goal of foster care. I decided to work as a partner with birth moms without judgment, without wishing they would fail, and try not to hold negativity toward them. I decided I will do everything I can for these kids while they are in my life and do everything I can to make sure they go home.
These children DO NOT belong to me and never did.
I took on the role of a guide and teacher for these kids and their families and I truly believe they belong with their family. If these moms and their kids stay connected, then I have done my job.
When you embrace the true meaning of the foster care process, there is nothing quite like it. I’ve never been a part of anything so powerful. Everyone needs a little help sometimes to get them going again. I sure did once. So when I cry for the first time in front of the boys as they leave me, I will cry out of happiness. I am honored to have been a help along the way to get this family to where it needed to be.
To see their smiles when they can go home again, there will be nothing like it. Still, I will always love them and they will always be in my heart. They belong with their family now. This is the true meaning and goal of foster care.
~Tricia Ward, licensed foster parent