Most of us have within our hearts a desire to be somebody’s dad or mom. And with that, the longing for someone to call you Dadddy, Dad, Mommy, or Mom. In fact, most of us think it’s kinda strange (maybe even disrespectful) for a child to call his/her parent by their first name.
But in foster parenting, that’s a reality.
Foster parents live with a weird tension. As long as the child is in your house, you act as their functional parent. You get to make normal day to day decisions, fix them meals, read them stories, help them learn chores, go to their ball games, play in the yard… just like a parent would.
Yet, when these children come into your home, and especially when they’re not young babies, they come as strangers with their own backgrounds, experiences, hurts, expectations, and understandings. Even if they quickly accept you as a good caregiver, they are far from the intimate place of seeing you truly as a dad or a mom. Indeed, in many cases, the aim is to return them to those who biologically are dad and mom. Unless adoption is the case goal, our time with the children is purposefully limited.
So, you learn to parent a child who calls you by your first name. And that’s okay.
Despite the desires of our hearts, the love for the children in our home is not to be based on what we think we can get. The love is based on our desire to give the child the most normal and beneficial life we can as long as they are under our roof, whether that is for a few weeks, a few months, or a few years. And the reward of that love is not found in a term but in the positive impact you make in another’s life, even if that fruit is still years in the making.