Thursday, September 28, 2006

Why I am "just" the foster mother

My counselor periodically expresses interest in why, pyschologically speaking, I wound up as a foster parent. What is it about me that makes me go down that path?

I think about it periodically as I read the foster-to-adopt blogs. What they are doing really does make more psychological sense. Most humans seem to have an ingrained need or desire to parent. For some people, for a variety of reasons, becoming a foster parent is (or for a while seems to be) the best way to get to that goal. But why would anyone do foster care intending to be "just" the foster parent?

Yesterday I told my counselor how deeply FosterAbba's story about Danielle had affected me. How I went to church the Sunday after Danielle first arrived and had to leave. I felt so angry at God that such a thing could be allowed to happen. I realized I was actually less angry at Danielle's abuser than I was at everyone else who should have noticed and done something. I told her that I knew she (the counselor) would ask me, "Why does this bother you this much?"

"Yes. That is what I would ask you."

She even joined me in the last half of the answer, "Because nobody rescued me."*

Our conversation eventually turned again to all the people who in one way or another did notice. People who gave me temporary emotional shelter, people like Bart and Clara. My counselor has started refering to them as my "foster parents" and says that they explain to her why I became a foster parent. I am a foster parent because I survived my childhood by finding adults to bond to. At almost every stage of my life there was some woman into whose kitchen I was always welcome.

And as an adult I became that woman. I did not go looking for unhappy children. I just noticed them. I said hello. I introduced myself. We chatted. If they liked to read I loaned them a book. To my surprise one of them did not just need a book, but needed a home, and I became a foster parent. Like Dan, I realize now that being a licensed foster parent is just an one of the ways that some of us reach out and parent children around us.

I admire Cindy and Claudia and all the other parents who adopt large numbers of children, but I know that that is not my place. For me, becoming a permanent part of some of these children's lives is a bonus, the proverbial icing on the cake. I accept that for most of them though, that is not who I am. I am the nice lady next door, the aunt, the maintainer of the oasis.

*When I was fourteen I told my mother that I was not going to visit my father any more. She said, "okay." It haunted me for years, still does sometimes, that that was all I had to do. I finally rescued myself and that was all it took. I could have done that when I was ten.

1 comment:

  1. But could you have done that when you were ten? Not many can.

    Someone has to notice. Where are they?


Comments will be open for a little while, then I will be shutting them off. The blog will stay, but I do not want either to moderate comments or leave the blog available to spammers.