Friday, July 19, 2013

Dealing with Jealousy and Pride when Fostering

I haven't posted in over a month because honestly, nothing "new" has happened in the fostering and adopting aspects of my life- things are more or less the same: Our family continues to wait to adopt again, we've made a few inquiries on waiting children but nothing has panned out, and we haven't had a foster placement in three months since our last placement [Ty and Ian] were placed in the care of relatives.  We're taking a break from fostering over the summer so hopefully in a couple of months I'll have something new to report!

In the meantime we are very excited (as well as a little nervous) to meet with our former foster daughter, Rose, next week when she celebrates her 2nd birthday.  We haven't seen her for six months and she has been in the care of a relative who will most likely be adopting her since both of her parent's rights were recently terminated- Very sad situation.  Nevertheless, we are grateful that her relative has allowed us to keep in contact.  It's been a tricky issue to decide if or how much contact to have with her and wondering whether such contact would be beneficial or confusing to her.

I admit that I have missed Rose so much that sometimes I've been tempted to be taken advantage of just to be with her again- as in, "Sure, I'll babysit her for free all day every day!" [so that she doesn't have to be in Day Care all day while her relative works.]  But boundaries need to be put in place and responsibility needs to lie with her relative who fought to have her placed in her care. 

Sometimes it's hard to "let go" and move on and I find myself struggling with feelings of jealousy or resentment.  It makes me wonder if that's how some birthparents feel post-placement, but the situation is not the same for two reasons:
 
1) Birthparents who choose to place a child for adoption have the choice of what happens to their child,
and
2)  That child was theirs to begin with which I'm guessing would magnify the loss so much more.    (Although I have heard accounts from birthmothers who have said they never felt like their baby "belonged" to them in the first place.)
 
Logically speaking how can you grieve over something that was never truly yours to begin with?  Although it's not logical I am sometimes a much more "emotional" or intuitive person so I know that it is absolutely possible to grieve over the loss of something that was never yours because attachment comes in. Nevertheless, attachment does not equal possession. 
 
In foster care, the minute a foster parent begins to think that a child "belongs" to them they need to take a step back and refocus.  It is the RESPONSIBILITY of the child that belongs to the foster parent, but not the RIGHTS or entitlement to a child.  Until a judge tells you that the child is legally yours, then you need to remember that they are not yours and you must respect the role that belongs to the child's birth family . . . which can be really hard to do when you realize that you've cared for the child longer than their birth family or that you would never neglect this baby or child because you're not the one who gets stoned for days or weeks at a time. 

And then to make matters worse, if infertility issues come into play there can be some major bitterness too.  For example, if you're caring for a child whose parents aren't married (and children or not- marriage is the "responsible" thing to do, right?) and whose parents have had multiple partners and multiple children as a result of those relationships, you might start thinking things like "Why are they more deserving of having children than I am when they can't even hold down a job/take care of their children/stay in a committed relationship with one person (or whatever the case may be?)"  That's when pride and judgment and comparison rear their ugly heads and you have to just focus on your own weaknesses and imperfections instead of pointing your finger at others.  Is that easy?  No- perhaps easier for some than others.  But fostering isn't about being easy.  And it most certainly is not about getting something in return.  It's about giving and caring for children- putting their needs above your own wants and desires- without expecting anything in return.
 
With that last paragraph of thoughts in mind, when I take all of the jealousy and pride and judgments out of the picture and focus on caring for Rose I am ever grateful that I got to be Rose's substitute mommy for 11 months of her life.

2 comments:

Msmoozy said...

Wow I so understand the "tempted to be taken advantage of" thing comes into play. We had a 15 year old with us for a year and a half that just not let herself become adopted, sad really and to this day we keep in touch (when she is doing the right things) and looking forward to getting to take her out for lunch. Also I am excited about that but so nervous as well. I know the mix of emotions and it is hard for others (that do not foster) to understand these "ups and down" all in the emotion. LOL ~Hugs~ Hang in there. :-)

MamaFoster said...

i hope you guys have a good visit with her. foster care is so complicated, but i am sure that YOUR children WILL come.