I know words. I have words. Yet I can’t find words to share this.
In early September with sweaty palm and knotted stomach I walked, alone, into my first Foster Parenting class through the Buckeye Ranch. My journey to that day, this point in my life, had been anything but planned and frankly more than unexpected.
My birth mother died several days before her 36th birthday–today I am older than my mother ever was. The greatest thing my mother did was bring me, and my three sisters, into this world–to give us her unconditional love. My mother had created a home for us, her four kids, that was open, loving, and most importantly welcoming–to our family, friends, and those in need. I believe the most meaningful lesson my mother taught me was to love, love hard, love big, love without reason…just love. I have always hoped, in time, that I too would have the opportunity to bring a child, or children, into this world and share with them the same unconditional kind of love that my mother shared with me and my siblings. And while I still believe I may one day have my own child, to share with them lessons learned, something my mother always wanted to do, but was unable to, was to open her home to foster kids.
Over the years my mother took in many family members and friends who leaned on the nucleus of our little disjointed family to help them get back on their feet and headed in a better direction. As a single parent my mother had little and she tried her best to provide us with all that we needed, and often times what we wanted–but because we knew that we were from far less than modest means our wants, as kids, were nothing more than trifle. But by supporting others my mother took from her time, gave of her talent, and what little treasure she may have had was already spread thin–so, even considering the care of a foster child was far beyond her capacity.
My mother died when I was 14.
I always imagined the first time I would bring a child into my home it would be my biological child–I also imagined that my mother would be a part of that experience. Don’t get me wrong in my heart I have always believed I would foster a child, or children, over the years…I just never imagined that I would be starting there as a foster parent–no, I was going to have a child first and then welcome a foster child into the home. But often we find that our lived experiences don’t align with our dreamed experiences and we learn to adjust to achieve our desires and meet ourselves where we are at that point in our lived journey.
At this point in my lived experience I didn’t know that I would be embarking on this journey as a single person–some things you just can’t plan for. And other things you’re told to plan for and then you realize that even “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” And we adjust–to fit into our new space.
And I’ve adjusted, well, into my new space–in April I bought a new house that is now a lovely home, I’m searching for my new rhythm in my day-to-day life, and I’m living with intentionality…I’m leaning in. And with the love and support of some family and very close friends the last few weeks of what could have been a very lonely experience was full of support, guidance, shoulders on which to cry, and boots to keep me moving.
And like one of the books I was given reminded me as much as this was my journey it was my journey to my family and no two journeys are the same and there is no right journey to reach your own destination. (I have to say it was rather fortuitous of me, in my young age, to name this blog so deftly.)
What was I doing!
Staying in on a Friday night so I could ensure I would make it to class, on time, the next morning was easy, my desire for spending evenings out at the bar had died down quiet some months ago and my living room presented a far better companion–my wallet and my body have been better for it. The questioning of my actions often came in the moments when I sat in class and looked around the room at the couples who were leaning in–together. I wasn’t supposed to be here; and I wasn’t supposed to be here alone.
Ah–was I going to perpetuate the cycle and this time by choice. Being a single parent wont be easy and in this moment I am making a knowing choice to welcome a child into my home and my heart–and I ask that you respect that choice, my choice, and the child who had no choice but will be lucky to find love in my home. But I also realize I wont truly be alone–I’ll have friends, family, and community surrounding me and supporting us.
So I’ve been reading lots, talking kilos, listening tons, crying some, laughing loads, planning bits, nesting stuff, and breathing.
I’m not ready…well, is any parent really ready?
This is it.
This is my new normal; “This Is Us“.
And it’s odd because roughly a year ago when NBC launched the new show “This Is Us” I found it so timely for me because we, the main characters and I, were all celebrating the same birth year. That common experience was enough to grab me and pull me into a show that somehow has accompanied me to this space in which I currently exist. And even now the show’s content is so relevant to my experience.
As one of the main characters and his wife welcome a foster child into their home they realized, prior to the child’s arrival, that they weren’t ready. Although they already had two young daughters, and recently cared for an aligning parent, they weren’t ready.
The “what ifs” that seemed to pollenate their thoughts…those can sometimes become real. They can sometimes become real things that may become tangible events. They are moments of fear, experiences of joy, situations of anxiety, clouds of judgement, tears of happiness, and expanses of unknown. But like many parents, the good parents, there will also be resolve. Steadfast resolve to ensure that this child is afforded the best that I can give them and unconditional love.
I’m becoming a foster and foster-to-adopt parent. There…I’ve shared it.
(Much more to come…)
Foster Parenting Resources
- Children’s Bureau: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/focus-areas/foster-care
- AdoptUSKids: https://www.adoptuskids.org/
- National Foster Parent Association: http://nfpaonline.org/