Friday, May 13, 2011

Foster Parent Friday - The Antidote to Arrogance: Fostering

I seem to have run out of FAQs for the moment, though I'm sure I'll pick up some more soon as we progress through this journey. Until then I'll be providing perspectives on fostering, the first of which I've been meaning to write for a month or so now. I had to wait for a particular picture and couldn't find the USB cable to my camera so I was out-of-luck and so was my blog. Hope the wait was worth it!

On one hand, foster parenting can be quite the pride-building experience. Everywhere you go where someone learns you are a foster parent you are told something similar to "I couldn't do that", or "You're an angel" or "Your a saint" or "You inspire me", all for being a good parent. Biological parents usually don't get as much credit just for raising their kiddos no matter how great they are. So, in a sense we could walk around with our noses in the air pretty easily.

Except - on the other hand everywhere you go, especially if you have multiple foster kiddos like we have over time, at least one of your kids is acting up and often times they don't respond as well to normal parenting tips and tricks. I don't blame them, their life has been so mismanaged that they were taken from their home (and, as I've said before in my experience that takes a lot). But nevertheless, folks don't look so kindly on the "single" mom (I'm often by myself) with 2 toddlers and 2 preschoolers who very obviously have different fathers, especially when the kids are acting up.

On a side note...I'll have to write a blog someday how differently people treat us when they know our kids are fosters vs. when they think they are bio kids.

Fundamental attribution error is a term that describes the tendency for people to give themselves credit for things that go right and blame others when things go wrong. So, typically when their kids act sweet, loving, obey, and use manners parents assume they are doing a good job (which they might be, but equally the kid might just be an “easy” kid). However, when they see other parents whose kids are acting up, they assume poor parenting, which is definitely a possibility or maybe that person is a foster parent whose kids were just placed with them the night before after being removed from their filthy, insect and rodent infested house after their mother overdosed on heroin. You never know.

It definitely humbles you as a parent. I can be so proud of my 4 year old who is so unbelievably brilliant, very sweet, and pretty darn obedient and mannered. Then there are times where I simultaneously have an 18 month old pulling out her hair during a fit, a 19 month old climbing out of her high chair even though seat-belted in and a 3 year old who just took the food off the plate of the stranger sitting next to him, while the 4 year old is yelling at them all that they are going to go to bed early if they don’t obey. And all the strangers in the room are looking at you wondering why you don’t use birth control seeing as how you have 4 kids by 4 dads in 4 years (and we do). It’s a crazy life.

Then you have the child with the bushy mullet because you’re not allowed to give your foster children a haircut without the permission of the parents and the state, wearing spongebob square-pants pajamas because he’s been begging for his mommy and his “yellow” pajamas (the only ones he came with) since he arrived, and begging to watch Family Guy on a Sunday night because apparently there wasn’t any scrutiny used in the previous home with regards to what television a preschooler could and should watch. I’d like to believe there is no way my son would have a haircut like that, nor would he have anything in our home from that spongy character, and he certainly wouldn’t know the theme song to Family Guy. Or the Simpsons.  And though one of my sons doesn't, my other son, through no fault of his own, is the one in the picture.  My daughter didn't know how to eat food other than a bottle until she was older than 10 months. My other daughter will walk right up to another kid and push her off a toy so she can have it or take their drink right out of their hands. 

From the outside, it might look like I'm the parent without the scruples.  And that's what most strangers are left thinking seeing as how I don't walk around telling everyone I'm a foster parent.  "Yes, I'm sorry my child just pulled down your pants...he's a foster child".  Nope - we happily take the blame and are happy to walk this road.  We love all of our kids.  Though others may see us as the crazy parents with the crazy kids, we're grateful for our situation. All of our kids are great in their own ways.  They play well together.  They love singing songs.  They take turns giving us random hugs and kisses.  They are great - they just haven't had a good shot yet.  That's what we're here for. 

Who needs pride anyway.

No comments: