Throughout our certification process many things have stuck in my mind and some things have resonated beyond measure! There is a necessary commitment to give up control of many things and that must become part of you as you move through this journey. For a person like me, giving up control is difficult. I naturally crave structure in my own life and believe strongly in doing things with integrity and to the very best of my abilities. While I realize that this is truly innate and the way I was simply created, I also know it is something I need to work harder at within my own being.
There are many things in life that are far beyond our control. When it comes to the foster care journey, it is best to live under the mantra of expect the unexpected. Even with the vast amount of preparation my husband and I have undergone, we still feel, at times, completely unprepared. How do you prepare for (up to two) children, infant to eight years of age?
The other day my husband and I went into Babies R Us to return a bedrail we no longer needed because of the purchase of the bunk beds. As we walked through the store to pick up another small item, I felt that ping once again. My husband noticed the change in my demeanor and comforted me as it hit me that we were “unprepared.” Watching new mothers-to-be register with excitement for their items they have lovingly chosen for their newborn brought a few tears to my eyes. I had realized in that moment that they had an opportunity that we will not be afforded in this journey. They knew that a baby would come into their home and they were able to prepare for all of the things they felt they would need for their child. It hit me that I didn’t even have a stitch of clothing to welcome these children into our home. It was that sense that I had no control over the situation that gave me my first hint of fear. My hubby reassured me that we were as prepared as we could be and that we always had a local 24 hour store close if we needed to run out and grab a few items. While that is comforting to know, it still plays with my sense of “control” over the situation of being prepared. Yes, the room is ready and yes, we have purchased small items like toothbrushes, toys and movies so that they feel a sense of comfort when they enter our home, but my mind returns to what they will show up with in hand and what they will need.
While I thrive on a sense of structure and control, there are things that are completely out of our hands. We cannot control the reasons the children are removed from their home and brought into the system, but we can control the environment they are brought into in our home. We cannot control the rehabilitation of their biological parents, but we can pray for them, help where we can and provide safety and love for their children while they work towards reunification. We cannot control visitations, therapy appointments and court dates, but we can control how we respond to such events and be persons of our word and commitment. One of the most bothersome things to us is that we cannot control how they are removed from the home, but we can raise awareness and funds to cover costs of something more than a trash bag to place their belongings into when they must leave their home.
This may not see like a huge thing in comparison to the other things listed, but it is something we can change, and it is something that brings respect and integrity back to the child. It sends a message to the child that they matter and their lives do not belong in a trash bag. Trash is for trash bags, not children’s belongings.
So with that thought, we move forward towards this goal, the goal to provide every child removed from the home with two things. First we want to provide each child with a suitcase that their belongings can be appropriately packed into. This will become their suitcase, and their property! The second item is a “cinch sack” type bag that will offer items of comfort and necessity for them during this stressful time. It sends a message that we have thought about them and want to care for them in this difficult time. The items we hope to include are basic, a toothbrush, toothpaste, pair of pajamas, comfort item and any other necessities they would need immediately according to their age. We fully understand that this is not the social worker, any agency or organizations fault, but we want to change the message we are sending children.
I think it is important to mention, that it is not our hope to only help the children that come into our home, but that enter foster homes across the country! We will start right here in our own county and believe that others will follow suit with the same desire. This is not a local problem, rather a problem in our country.
Isaiah 11:2 ~ The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him– the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—
Romans 8:15 ~ The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
John 14:27 ~ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.