I sat in a noisy restaurant, and across the table from me was the most beautiful 2-year-old girl with the best little ringlets falling from her head. She was a part of our family for nearly a year and now, seeing her for the first time since she left our home, it would seem we hardly knew each other.
It had been months since she left our home to be reunified with her sister. We celebrated with her and we mourned the loss of everyday interactions with her. Now, as our families got together for the first time since this transition, it was clear the transitioning wasn’t over. All I wanted to do was jump across the table and scoop up our foster daughter in a big ole hug and kiss just like I used to, but that was not what she needed. She needed time to transition to process that both of her families could be involved in her life and that didn’t mean her life was going to be turned upside down again. I had to let her lead, not my emotions.
I am thrilled to tell you that after a couple of family get togethers, our former foster daughter is now comfortable with these interactions. She will hold our hands and give us hugs and laugh with us. Waiting for her to be ready for this was difficult, but so important for her.
This unselfish love is at the heart of foster parenting. You see foster parenting is at its best unselfish. It is giving of yourself, your family, your resources and your time for a child. It is often putting your emotions aside and denying what you want for what that child needs.
I find that when I am too focused on my frustrations with a case manager, or the court system, or the biological family, or even the sometimes-extensive needs of a child, I am at my weakest. When I am too focused on myself I cannot focus on others. Fostering is not about me! Foster parenting is about giving of my family and myself for a little while, sometimes forever, but always completely!