Monday, February 26, 2007

The Ugly Word "Foster"

Someone objected on FosterAbba's blog about her use of the word "foster" as in "foster parent" or "foster child." The commenter said that it was belittling to call the foster children "foster children."

The commenter is right about the use of the word in every day life.

I don't know for certain about FosterAbba, because I don't spend time in real life with her, but I know that I rarely use the word "foster" off the blog. I NEVER introduce children as my foster kids. I only tell people that I am the foster mom when they need to know -- as in when I have to explain to the people at the medical facility why I cannot sign the consent form even though I have been calling myself the mother. That is yet another reason why I like being their "aunt." No one expects me to have legal rights I don't have.

When I have kids here on respite I introduce them as friends of the family, or kids of a friend of mine. When I had to take one of them to an emergency clinic I told the nurse that I couldn't sign anything. "I'm just the nice lady who gave them a ride."

I have made a conscious decision to use the word more on this blog though. The commenter on FosterAbba's blog seemed to think that she was tooting her horn, expecting praise because she was a foster mother. I don't think she is. I suspect that FosterAbba, like me, uses the word on her blog for a different reason.

When I started the blog I just needed to write. It did not matter to me whether anyone read ( did not matter a lot). What started to happen was that I connected up with more and more parents who are raising kids who have experienced trauma. It has been so helpful to have that connection.

The kids have it so much worse than we do. There is no comparison.

But trying to care of children with such complex and difficult problems is not easy. Sometimes we get it all wrong. By sharing honestly on the blog I have often received very helpful feedback, sometimes from foster care alumni. I will be tearing my hair out about something and someone will say, "He does it because..." And suddenly it makes sense, and I realize it is not about me. I calm down and have a better idea of how to face the situation.

Using the word here makes it easier for people who are traveling the same journey to find me, and I want them to find me because they are so helpful to me.

It is one of the things it can be difficult to remember about blogs. We write in our blogs what we cannot and will not say in our lives. We write it in our blogs to make it easier not to say it. Our blogs, therefore, can give a very distorted picture of who we really are.

1 comment:

  1. Good morning. I'm probably going to email you later.


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.