Goodbyes Ain’t Easy

Foster care is meant to be temporary. When things work right, the case goals are to give the best permanency to the kids, which is to return to the home (if the home life is improved) or to place with family. Adoption by an unrelated family is usually the last option on the list. So, when kids come into your home, you know that most likely they won’t stay. It’s just a matter of how long before you have to say “goodbye.”

In a way, that means that you try not to become too attached to the kids. You love them the best you can, but you want to keep in mind that this won’t be permanent. But when you’re raising a child day in and day out, experiencing with them their hurts and their joys, it’s hard not to become “too attached.” You love them and then you fall in love with them.

Then the day comes where you have to say goodbye.

And it’s rough.

When you’re reading one last bedtime story, they fall asleep, and then you have to walk out of the room knowing that bed will be empty tomorrow night, you can’t help but shed some tears. And that’s okay.

Such goodbyes shouldn’t be easy. Even if you’ve had a hard time with the child, it’s not easy. But it’s what you have to do. It’s part of the reason we do this: To give the child a temporary home until they can find permanence. So we love, we fall in love, we say goodbye, we cry, we get ourselves together, and we do it again…

Boys will be boys (and will pass a lot of gas)

The day our first foster son arrived, it came with anticipation. We thought we were ready and prepared, but as the clock ticked down, my wife and I were hit with a wave of “we’re not ready!” One advantage we had was that this was a boy who had already been in two other foster homes, so he had had the experience of moving in with strangers.

I went and picked him up, and he talked to me some in the half-hour car ride home, but mostly he played on his computer and stared out the window. When we made it home, my wife had dinner prepared–spaghetti and garlic bread.

“Do you like spaghetti?”

He nodded his head.

Still, he merely picked at his food, tearing up at one point but fighting them back. “I’m not really hungry.” “That’s okay. We can save it for later.”

For a while he was stoic, not saying much, and showing little emotion outside those hidden tears. Then we carried his items upstairs to his new bedroom and asked if he wanted help unpacking. He nodded. Fifteen minutes passed, and we had most of his clothes put away. His toys would be next.

But he laid down on the floor like he wanted to take a break. Then it happened. A loud fart ripped through the air. We stared at him and he stared at us. A large smile crossed his nine-year-old face and he burst out laughing.

A few days later, and many more farts shared, my wife asked me in private, “Is this normal?” Yes, honey, it is. He’s a boy. I even told her that I thought that farting was his love language.

Kids don’t get placed into foster care “just because.” These kids have seen loss, abuse, drug use, and neglect. Each of our foster children have experienced far more in their young lives than anyone should. They will have wounds and scars that they carry in their hearts, minds, and souls for years if not life.

Yet, they are still children. Boys will be boys. Girls will be girls. And in the case of one of our sons, a lot of gas will be passed. That “still very much a kid” part is the part that we do our best to nurture, to help them begin to find what normalcy we can in the storm-tossed lives they have been forced into.