Skip to main content

Fostering FAQ: What's Her (Mom's) Story?

This is probably the second most common question I hear about the baby currently in our care, right after, "Will you keep her?"

It comes in many forms:

"So, what's her story?"
"Is her mom in the picture?"
"How did she end up in your home?
"Is her mom a drug addict?"
"How could a mom not love such a cute baby!"

I get it. It's natural curiousity, and I know I've asked similar questions of my friends who are adoptive parents.

Who wouldn't be curious about this sleepy little bear!?

But here's what I'm learning: a child's story is their own. And equally as important, the parent's story is their own.

Imagine how it might feel to hear that for the foreseeable future, you are not allowed to care for your child. On top of whatever difficult circumstances you are already in - perhaps poverty, social isolation, lack of adequate housing, domestic violence, intergenerational trauma, drug or alcohol dependency, low cognitive functioning, or a myriad of other complex struggles - you now experience the loss of your children. There's grief, anger, guilt, shame.

I've been entrusted with information, yes. But it doesn't belong to me, and it isn't loving to either the child or the parent for me to share their struggles and pain. We know the child's background so that we're able to care well for them, to help them learn and process their own story, and to support their family to the best of our abilities. Beyond that - each human has the right to privacy, to choose self-disclosure when it is their desire, and to be protected from the gossip or judgment of others.

It's what I want for myself. It's what I want to offer to others...something, to be honest, I struggle with. I am extremely curious, inquisitive. I always want to know peoples' stories, especially the unusual ones. Learning to keep my curiosity to myself is something I still trip over.

--

When you're curious about a child in care, here's what you can assume to be true about their story:

  1. The parent is struggling with profoundly difficult circumstances.
  2. The child and their parent are both experiencing the trauma of loss and separation.
  3. The parent loves their child, even if they aren't currently able to provide a safe home for them, or if their behaviour doesn't communicate that love.
  4. The foster parent knows the family's story, but can't share much of it with you.
  5. The foster parents are on a complex journey with the child and their biological parents (and several social workers) - they are a team looking to navigate the family history and build a healthy future for the child. 
--

Next up: "So what do you actually do as a foster parent?"

Comments

Katie V. said…
Great post! I am the inquisitive type who needs to be reminded that my wanting to know something doesn't give me the *right* to know it. Thanks for offering a safe home/space for that lovely little one.
Tracy said…
There is so much we cannot make sense of in our foster / adoptive children's stories. Sometimes there isn't a way to piece together the realities that the brokenness of this world brings and make it understandable. I think it's best said that in parenting "Love is not enough". And while it might be impossible to really comprehend it all, I'm so thankful that God redeems and restores the brokenness of our lives - and the lives of those little blessings he gives us through our chosen children. Great posts, Beth! Keep 'em coming!

Popular posts from this blog

What About Travis!?

I just watched Hope Floats, the second movie in my I-really-need-to-vegetate night. Now that we have more than three channels, there are so many quality programs on TV! Like movies in the middle of the week. I enjoyed many of the lines in this movie, including:

"I went home and told my mama you had a seizure in my mouth."
(referring to her first french-kissing experience)

"Dancing's just a conversation between two people. Talk to me."
(the conversation in our living room then went,
Girl 1: Only Harry Connick Jr. could say that line without it being incredibly cheezy.
Boy: Without it being cheezy? That's all I heard. Cheez, cheez, cheez.
Girl 2: Yeah, but it was sexy, sexy cheez...sigh.)
"Better do what she says, Travis. Grandma stuffs little dogs."

Bernice: At home we had a pet skunk. Mama used to call it Justin Matisse. Do you think that's just a coincidence? All day long she would scream, "You stink Justin Matisse!" Then one day she just…

I Like to Keep My Issues Drawn

It's Sunday night and I am multi-tasking. Paid some bills, catching up on free musical downloads from the past month, thinking about the mix-tape I need to make and planning my last assignment for writing class.

Shortly, I will abandon the laptop to write my first draft by hand. But until then, I am thinking about music.

This song played for me earlier this afternoon, as I attempted to nap. I woke up somewhere between 5 and 5:30 this morning, then lay in bed until 8 o'clock flipping sides and thinking about every part of my life that exists. It wasn't stressful, but it wasn't quite restful either...This past month, I have spent a lot of time rebuffing lies and refusing to believe that the inside of my heart and mind can never change. I feel like Florence + The Machine's song "Shake it Out" captures many of these feelings & thoughts.

(addendum: is the line "I like to keep my issues strong or drawn?" Lyrics sites have it as "strong," …

Simone Weil: On "Forms of the Implicit Love of God"

Simone Weil time again! One of the essays in Waiting for God is entitled "Forms of the Implicit Love of God." Her main argument is that before a soul has "direct contact" with God, there are three types of love that are implicitly the love of God, though they seem to have a different explicit object. That is, in loving X, you are really loving Y. (in this case, Y = God). As for the X of the equation, she lists:

Love of neighbor Love of the beauty of the world Love of religious practices and a special sidebar to Friendship
“Each has the virtue of a sacrament,” she writes. Each of these loves is something to be respected, honoured, and understood both symbolically and concretely. On each page of this essay, I found myself underlining profound, challenging, and thought-provoking words. There's so much to consider that I've gone back several times, mulling it over and wondering how my life would look if I truly believed even half of these things...

Here are a few …