It was early on a dark, quiet Sunday morning, my time to read and journal, when I came across a Scripture that convicted me. I share it because this scripture passage has messaging that is useful for all of us, whether we are religious or not:
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:9-21)
Giving in to frustration
You see, just the week before, I was upset with the parent of our foster daughter and allowed that frustration to influence the decision to respond to her texts or calls. We had just had a lengthy phone conversation the morning of a scheduled visit and everything was set up for the day — all the siblings, gifts, food and transportation. In addition, this visit was tied to a holiday so the excitement and need to see mom was great. Later that day I found out mom was a no-show and I knew we would deal with the ramifications (trauma behaviors) of that for days. I immediately tried to text and call mom, but there was no answer or response for days on end.
When she finally responded to me, it was filled with the usual excuses and I gave into my frustrations by deciding at that moment I would not text or call her back. I was so drained from working so hard. I had been in constant communication with her for months, and we had a good relationship. I was angry that her decision would now make for difficult days ahead for our family. I made my decision to make her wait to hear from me solely based on those feelings. I, in turn, acted as she did by not responding back and did not rise above the situation. (“Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.”)
I know I could have posted this scenario on Facebook and received dozens of comments reassuring me my actions were okay, fine or the same as others would have done. I could get validation from others telling me I tried, I worked so hard, it was only a day or two, or it was the right response considering the situation. Yet in the eyes of everyone, which includes this mom, it was not the right response.
She most likely needed to hear from me the most after finally getting herself to a place to text me back.
What you do moving forward matters
Dear foster parents, we will all experience the drain out and many times we may not give the right response. The important thing is what you do moving forward — what do you do when your heart lets you know you missed the mark. Do you look to others to validate your actions or turn to society that tells us we are on the “other side” of this equation and therefore all is good?
Working with people who struggle with addiction, mental illness, domestic violence — people who may have been children themselves in those environments — is extremely draining. At times it brings out anger, frustration, tears and sadness in us all. Their actions can magnify the issues we are already having with their child. Their actions may take the healing process back several steps for their child. Despite all of this and more, at the end of the day, we have to answer to our actions and responses. We have to live with our decisions and how they impact the journey of fostering for us. So, if it is possible, I will choose to live at peace with everyone.
In rising above a situation — making a decision not based on anger or frustration — I will give myself the gift of peace as well.
– Betsy DuKatz, licensed foster parent
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services recruits, trains and provides support services for foster families. The need for foster parents in Wisconsin is great. Contact us to receive information about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, or visit our website to learn more.