It is the first thing that you learn when you become a foster parent. If you don’t learn it fast, I guess that you learn to live with a broken heart. Foster parenting is an incredibly difficult task and one of the most rewarding things that I have ever done. Because of the horror stories that people hear there is a stigma out there that people who foster are all keeping the children in the closet and living high on the hog off of the money that they get from the state. Those incidents make up a tiny fraction of the people who foster children in this country. The stories are gut wrenching and not a realistic representation of the majority of foster families.
In all of my trainings and classes I met absolutely remarkable people who opened their homes and their hearts to kids who just didn’t have anyone else. These kids are not easy to take care of. They have been through horrible experiences and need a lot of extra attention. The idea that people foster for the extra income just cracks me up…the compensation that most states give out to house children, is barely even enough to pay to feed them for a month.
Back to planting a seed…the reason that it was such an important belief for my husband and I to have, is because we knew that we only got to have these children with us for a limited amount of time. When you have to let foster children go…you have to let them go, and sometimes it is right back to the terrible situation that they were taken out of. Maybe some people are different, but I can’t have any sort of relationship with a young person without caring for them. There is no way that you can just shut down the love that you have for a kid you have been parenting for the past year. So you just rely on the seeds. You close your eyes and pray that they will grow and somehow help that child when they are faced with their next difficult situation.
The seeds are life skills, coping skills, words of wisdom and inspiration. Each seed is something that a child can remember to hold onto when they find themselves in a scary place. I do believe that my husband and I managed to plant seeds in the minds of those kids, even the ones that we have lost touch with now.
I remember one night, when I had just gotten pregnant with the twins. My husband was working dinner at his restaurant and two of the boys, we had three at the time, were on visitation at their parent’s houses. I had just one boy home with me, and we were watching TV in the living room. I had a horrible spell of nausea and paced the floor for about fifteen minutes before I went into the bathroom and threw up. When I came out my foster son’s face was absolutely green. I looked at him and said: “Don’t get girls pregnant.” He nodded numbly at me…I am sure that he remembers that moment to this day.
We are luckily still in contact with our first two foster sons, who are brothers. The pride that they make me feel cannot even be explained. They have both grown into handsome intelligent young men, so tall they will have to look down at me the next time that they see me. They have both been incredibly generous in reminding my husband and myself what a positive impact we have had on their lives. It makes me want to cry, because they were only with us for a year, and all that I did was the best that I could for them. All that I did was try to plant seeds…well; I guess that some of them took root.