Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What Not to Say to a Foster Parent

My sister's friend recently wrote an article about what not to say to a working mom. It's a list of 11 things that well-meaning people have said regarding her working full-time away from her son. It got me thinking about all of the things I have heard as a foster parent...about my kids, about me, about our "situation."

From those who may not immediately know we are a foster family:
Are these all yours?
When you look at me and you see three to five children, all spanning three-ish years and not all matching in race, you can safely assume the answer is "no." Not biologically. Are they all mine for today? Yes.

Are you running a daycare?
Dear well-intentioned woman at the park, when you hear four kids calling me mommy, you know it is not a daycare I run. When I answer 'no' and give you no further explanation, it is time to stop asking more questions. Because if I didn't respond to that one, I will likely not respond openly to "What's sibling rivalry like with all those kids?" and "Did you plan to have them so close together?"

Can I touch her? Can I pick him up?
Actually, thank you for asking this question. Because my answer will be a resounding "no". If you do not know my last name, my child's first name, and have only just laid eyes on my child today, do not ask, offer or expect to hold her. Do not touch my child's hair while saying to me: "What's she mixed with?" Do not squeeze her chubby cheeks and say: "She hasn't missed any meals, has she?" Do not pick up my two year old even if she puts her arms up and very sweetly, in the tiniest voice, says: "Up, please." If you wouldn't do it to another family you don't know in the middle of Target, don't do it to mine. Please.

From those of you who know exactly what our deal is:
Don't you wish you could keep them all?
Kids do not come into foster care with the goal of adoption. They come with the goal of family reunification. A goal that a system can help their family to heal, repair, learn and adapt. Only very late in the game is it even my choice to "keep" them. With 25 kids, that choice has only come once. I believe at some point down the road, someone will "need to be kept." And that it will feel right to keep that someone. Until then, I'll keep them as long as they need to stay.

So what's his story?
My kids' stories, what they have been through, what brought them to my house, are the most personal pieces of information I carry about them. Know that it takes an egregious incident or a long road of neglect to have children placed in alternate care. Assume the worst. Multiply it by a few. Don't worry about the minutiae of their journey.

They're better off with you anyway.
There is nothing better than being with your parents and being adored and well cared for. Foster care, I am sure, is on no child's top ten list. No teen's bucket list. No one's letter to Santa. Are my kids safer with me? Probably for now. Do they have opportunities and experiences that they may not have had otherwise? Possibly yes. But is there anywhere a child would rather be than with the family he was born into? You'll have a hard time convincing me of that.

They're just going to end up back in the system.
My child has lived with me for seven months. Maybe ten. Maybe over a year. I have poured every bit of energy into loving on my babies for those months. I have adored them, played with them, and watched them grow. I have wondered what they'll be when they grow up, where they'll go to high school, what their interests will be. I have loved them with all my heart. I know their backstory and the progress that has been made in the time they've been with me. I do not need anyone suggesting their next step will be anything other than perfect. I have to believe this for my own sanity as my heart cannot handle any other possibility.

We need more people like you.
Don't speak. Act. There are plenty of kids out there to love.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Buddy's still working hard to catch up on his speech and language. His comments from the back of the car the other day show great progress though.

Me: Buddy, did you have a fun day in Miss Donna's class?
Him: Ruby bite me! Ruby NO!!!! Ruby time out!

First retelling of an event from his day. Two three word utterances with no prompts. The speechie in me rejoices.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Window Shopping

Oh, Petsmart, how we love thee.

The Terrible Twos

times two.

I am not sure I'd recommend this to anyone. I don't remember two three year olds being this "fun" or even two one year olds. But boy, do two two year olds keep me on my toes.

I could really do without the fits over cereal, who's on your undies or diaper, who gets their diaper changed first, and what sippy cup I pull out of the cabinet. I would love to eat out without a tantrum or make it through a meal at home without someone crying. I would love not to have my seat in the car kicked repeatedly because a certain princess is crabby.

But if we can filter out the fun and keep it that way, we'll all be good.

Thank you for kids who are interested in undies, who are soooooo happy wearing hats and mittens, who play ring around the rosy and sing ABCs incessantly, and who when not being terrible two year olds can be pretty terrific two year olds.

Sure Thing

Recent comments from D:

"You sure are a good cooker, Tammy."
"Buddy sure does like that word 'no'!"
"Peanut sure does look cute in her undies."
"I sure do like riding my bike to school."
"You sure do like being a mom, Tammy."
and one of my faves, after I said I'd have him "take a break upstairs" if a certain behavior continued:
"Oh yeah, you sure would do that, wouldn't you?"

Best Dressed Pre-K Student Award...

goes to D, who has worn this tie every single day since he received it for Christmas. Regardless of the shirt: Spiderman T, polo, button down.

Best $3.99 Santa has ever spent!