A Year of Foster Parenting… Sort of

Saturday was the one year anniversary of our first placement, dubbed Ladybug here. I thought about her a lot the past week. I pray that she’s doing well. No news is good news, I suppose. If you’ve been reading here long, you probably know that while we still consider ourselves foster parents, our home is in closed status while we’re temporarily living with my parents and building a new home. Technically we haven’t had a child in foster care with us since November when Precious was moved into our legal guardianship. Specifics aside, we’ve been parents for a year now. July 28, 2011 is one of those dates that will be permanently etched in my memory. Ladybug holds a very special place in my heart. She was the first child ever to call me mama.

We started our our day with a get together of old and new friends who are all touched by adoption or foster care one way or another. I call it a community group: people on similar life journeys hanging out with no agenda but to support and encourage each other. If nothing else, it’s a place where people don’t ask dumb questions or use wrong terminology about adoption. There was one brand new foster mama there with her 10 year old first placement. There was a couple and their daughter adopted from Ethiopia 2.5 years ago. There was a woman with her one year old who was an unexpected domestic infant adoption. And there were several friends who are waiting for domestic infant adoption matches. An eclectic mix with a common thread.

From there, we spent the afternoon with some of Precious’ biological family. I have so much going through my mind since then but little of it seems appropriate to share here. Maybe writing will help me sort out my thoughts … Precious has 4 older biological half-siblings, living in 3 different homes. It was great to get them all under one roof, to see them all loving each other so well and getting along great. They’re all just as beautiful as Precious, if you can believe that. I got a few photos of the five together but I don’t feel it’s appropriate to share here.

With foster care, there is not really such thing as “open adoption.” All adoptions are closed for reasons you can imagine. But at the same time, unless a foster parent is really determined to avoid the biological family all together—or if the bio family is gone—they’re going to meet or at least know each others’ names. This was scary to me at first. Partly for Precious’ safety and emotional health, but also for selfish reason: I don’t want to make things more complicated. (Ha!) I’m finally starting to understand the sentiment I’ve often heard in regards to open adoption: a child can never have too many people who love and care about her. Seeing how excited Precious’ bio family was to see her and how they couldn’t wait to shower her with hugs and kisses confirms the value of maintaining those connections when it’s possible and beneficial.

I’ve written before about how valuable it turned out to be to have some visits with Precious’ birth mom, because not only did she show us how much she loves her, she told us and also generously affirmed us as her parents. It was so beneficial, even though it was uncomfortable. As Precious gets older, we’ll be able to give her a say in how much contact she wants to maintain with her biological family, as well as gauging how it affects her to see them. It’s so hard to know what to do but we want to keep the doors open. Anyone out there have experience with open adoptions have some insight to share?

(Story behind the pink daises here.)


2 Responses to A Year of Foster Parenting… Sort of

  1. Annie says:

    Oh I wish I was there. That sounds like a great get together. I will be praying for Ladybug this week. I know how hard it is.

  2. indi says:

    my parents are foster carers in australia so there is really not really any adoption however there is long term guardianship orders. my parents are the long term guardians of a little boy who they have had since they picked him up from hospital as a newborn. he has a number of siblings placed in different situations – some in kinship placements, some with carers and little siblings who live with his biological mum. he has met all but one of his siblings who lives interstate. i believe at this stage in his life his family dynamics appear much more complicated to us as adults then they do for him. for him it is just his family. he has my parents three bilogical children (including me) as his siblings as well as a number of other siblings and two mums and one dad and to him it is normal. at this moment in his life (he is seven) it is about spending time with people who love him, playing with other children and having fun. i believe in the future this informal network and his knowledge from a young age of his family will support him as he gets older and has questions about why he is in care, why he is not with his biological mum etc. i believe the normality my parents have developed for him and his contact with family will help him to see it as just the way his family is and nothing that he can’t question or discuss and considering the number of ways a family can be formed in this era his probably won’t be that unusual. i think you do have to be aware of protecting the child if there are any issues in relation to the ongoing contact, the emotional toll or if people are unreliable however it’s about weighing up the future benefits of having that knowledge of where they fit within both your family, their biological family and the world. sorry for such a long post. hope it makes sense. i guess what i believe is if they are wanting contact and contact is going ok it can very beneficial to continue to support little people to know their families. sorry if there are spelling mistakes i wrote this very quickly.

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