I have heard this expression shouted several times this summer from my kids as they were playing tag in the yard or shirking responsibility for a household chore or a recently noticed mess. These words are usually easier to say than “It!” Taking the lead or ownership for something can be hard to do.
One particular day, this expression led me to think about being a foster parent. I wondered where would things be — the kids, the families, the system — if foster parents decided to say “Not it.” Although many of us understand the rewards and benefits of fostering, we also know it makes our lives busier and more complicated.
We do our best to help children navigate through a most difficult time in their life while also trying to partner parent with a biological family member. We do our best to advocate for children while being respectful of all involved. We do our best to hold children close and help them feel safe while they are having a meltdown or cannot fall asleep. We do our best to maintain good communication with all parties involved in addition to attending appointments, meetings and court dates. We seek answers to questions that are unanswerable. We travel an emotional rollercoaster of ups and downs, often wondering when the ride will end. And we do our best to be strong when it’s time to say goodbye.
I don’t know about you, but some days I want to shout, “Not it!” But I don’t. My family and I have said “It” several times over the last three years knowing that every time we do, we help a child who needs us. Even though fostering is the hardest work I have ever done, my family and I take the responsibility seriously and feel passionate about giving to others.
When the days are difficult, I draw strength from my family, my faith and others in the fostering community. I encourage you to use the supports that best help you stay strong and resilient. Friends, continue to be strong. Let’s keep stepping up.
I’ll start. “It!”
– Carrie Sgarlata, foster parent