Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Confessional: I'd Make a Sucky Foster Mom

You've probably heard the statistics. That if just one family in every third church in Georgia would foster one child, there would be enough families for every child in "the system."

(Or something ridiculous like that. I don't know the exact number. But the point being that it wouldn't take a lot of people stepping up to ensure that every foster child had a family to call their own.)

It seems like the churches I attend and the families I know are doing more than their share. Caring for the orphans and the parent-less is something that my friends are doing in droves.

Adopting or fostering or adopting their fosters.

So adoption and fostering is not a foreign concept to me. In my world it is almost freakishly common.

But I just know ... somewhere ... deep in my bones ... that I'm not woman enough.

I wish I could say otherwise. I've always joked that my job isn't to adopt or foster ... it's to support others who do. Because if you're a mom who's already juggling six kids and one of them forgets to tell you they have to stay after school for something, it's easier for me to scoot up to the school than it is for you to. I get that, and I'm happy to do it.  Honestly!

I will pick up your kids.

I will text you from the grocery store to see if you need anything.

I will cover for you and bring an extra dish to the pot luck. 

I will buy your kids' school supplies and deliver them to you.

I will come over with a bottle of wine when you need an evening of grown-up conversation.

But I cannot do the actual bringing-the-kids-to-live-in-my-house thing.

It hurts to admit this publicly. To say out loud that my heart isn't big enough. That my arms aren't wide enough. That my mind isn't flexible enough.

I have a tiny bit of sort-of experience with this because I am a stepmom. And — especially early in the process — I was a sucky stepmom. 

Not to my stepson, mind you. I was crazy good to him. But in the process of ensuring that my new stepson loved me, felt accepted by me, I failed my biological son. I wanted so desperately not to be the stereotypical stepmonster, that I took my stepson's side in just about every conflict that first year.

See? I can be objective! I won't favor my son at the expense of my stepson!

No. It was worse than that. I left my five-year-old high and dry to find his own way in this new family, and he suddenly didn't have anyone in his corner.

And I have so ached with regret from that experience that I can't risk doing it again.

I can't thread that needle again, protecting and reassuring one whose life has just been turned upside down while protecting and reassuring the other one whose life has also just been turned upside down. Either I'd be a great parent to the new children or to my bio-kids. I just don't know how to do both.

Heck, I can't even handle it when someone messes with my pets.

My dog and my cat. Don't mess with my dog or my cat.
First I spent eight years trying to love get along with a dog who hated my cat. (Well, he didn't actually hate her. He thought she would taste good. Like chicken. So he spent eight years trying to eat her.) They are both now in pet heaven where I am assuming they get along just fine.

Then a couple of weeks ago we had a "trial week" with a dog that we were considering adopting. But when foster-dog decided to beat up on Brenna, the first dog that was really "mine," I was went a little batshit crazy. Picture me — a grown woman — sitting on the floor, holding a 50-pound dog on my lap, crying that I would protect Brenna from the big bad wolf.

So I would suck at fostering or adopting.

So if you are a foster mom or an adoptive mom, I will travel miles and miles from the East, bowing down at your feet and presenting gifts of gold (wrapped chocolate), wine, and scented candles, for I am not worthy. You are doing a holy thing. Something I cannot do.

But I will drive and shop for you.

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