Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Brian as a fostering child

Brian will be twelve in June. His father stayed home and ran a home day care for the first few years of his life. Brian grew up with bustle. New people came into the house so often and Brian took over the roll of greeter. At three he would walk up to people who just came in and say, "Hello. Come on in. Do you know everyone? This is..(names of everyone given). Let me show you where to put your things."

Carl was one of his babysitters. Brian adored him. When Carl's foster family broke up we asked Brian and Andrew what they thought of Carl moving in with us. They were thrilled. They happily agreed to share a room and introduced him as their new brother to everyone. Brian was five at the time.

It is impossible to know what Brian would have been like had we not fostered. I know that children who foster have more separation anxiety which can manifest as more sick days. Brian is one of the most creative kids at trying to get out of school. He has had the usual stomach aches and sore throats. He has pains in his foot or leg which have a tendency to go away as soon as he comes home. Once he has claimed some other phantom symptoms that I just can't bring myself to post, but trust me, they're good.

He has been diagnosed with a low-grade depression. We reluctantly put him on an anti-depressant and within a month he turned into a different kid. The melt-downs did not go away completely, but they become much less frequent and when they did happen they did not last. He started having actual conversations with us.

I feel a little awkward about sharing that, but if I am going to talk about the affect of fostering on my kids I have to be honest.

Both the psychiatrist and the psychologist who have treated Brian have assured us that this is just the way he is. There is a family history for depression (some of it severe), and he just got the gene. I asked both of them if they would recommend that we stop doing care and they said no.

Of all members of the family, Brian is the most committed to doing care. He is unambiguous about it. He wants us to keep doing it. He is anxious for the day when he is old enough that we will be able to get a kid YOUNGER than he.

Of course that does not stop other people from telling us that we are hurting Brian.

And that is one of the realities of being a fostering family. If your bio kid gets into any trouble, does poorly in school, suffers from any anxiety, someone will wonder "how can you put your kids through this?" Friends will anxiously ask you, "Do you think this is good for them?" And you will wonder. You will look at whatever your child is doing and wonder, "Would they be doing this had we not fostered?"

Of course it is impossible to know.

But then I think about the particular kids. Brian adores Carl. Would I choose for him not to have been part of Brian's life? Never. And David or Evan? Again, Brian loves them, unconditionally. I could not take them away from him either.

Who would Brian have been without them? I do not know. I just love the Brian I have.

1 comment:

  1. You said it best. What would he have been like? Who knows? More depressed for not having the additional people to love?

    We can't know.


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