Q: Are the kids who come into your home dangerous to Logan (and Summer)? Don't you worry about that?
A: I will honestly say that yes, as a foster parent you must absolutely consider the impact each foster placement might have on your forever kiddos. That is not in question. You can control some of that if you want to by limiting the children that you take to avoid certain known triggers or things you know you couldn't handle. We have very few of these limitations but we have always said no to a male with known history of sexual abuse (not that we've actually had the chance to say no to that). We have also one time actually said no to a child who was described to us in a way that we didn't believe we'd be able to handle. In truth I didn't believe we'd be the best family for that little guy but honestly I was concerned about my kiddos as well. Poor thing - I hope he's found a good home by now.
With all that said, I didn't want to focus on the serious danger today but rather point out the REAL impact foster children have had on my forever children through a series of brief glimpses into scenes from our life over the past 3 years. (Why yes, now that I think of it, it was 3 years ago Tuesday we received the call that our license had been approved and 3 years ago next Wednesday when we received our first call).
Scene 1: Driving by Whataburger - A Texas hamburger chain that is very recognizable
#20 - Mom, What's that?
Mie - Whataburger
#19 - Mom, don't throw a hamburger at me ok?
Mie - Ok. I won't throw a hamburger at you. ... Wait. Did someone throw a hamburger at you?
#19 - Yes, (So and So past relative placement)
Mie - Oh I see. Well we don't throw hamburgers at children. No one should ever throw hamburgers at you ok? Why did (person) throw a hamburger at you?
#19 - Because I'm bad.
#20 - He's bad.
Mie - No, you're not bad. I think you're a good boy. I think you both are good boys. I won't throw a hamburger at you.
Our forever kiddos have learned that in other homes, some other children face different kinds of discipline and not all mom's have it as together as I do (see my posts from the last two days...).
Scene 2: Driving in the big city - #20 points out EVERY police car
#20 - There's one.
Mie - Yep, there's another one, but don't worry mommy's not afraid of the police. I obey the rules so the police aren't coming to get mie. Do you know someone who's scared of the police?
#20 - (Immediately, without hesitation) My dad punches my mom.
Then I talked to him about THAT.
Our forever kiddos have learned that some daddies are mean to the mommies and kids in the house by hurting them. The calm-down corner seems relatively harmless.
Scene 3: Walking through the clothing store
Mie - This weekend I'm going through your things to see what else you might need and if you need something I'll buy it for you ok.
#19 - We need pajamas.
Mie - Ok, I'll look through your things and figure out what you need and if you need pajamas I'll make sure I buy them for you ok?
#19 - Ok. (Relative) says we have to wear pajamas 2 times.
Mie - Oh, so at her house you had to wear your pajamas 2 times before you washed them?
#19 & #20 - Yep. She said we didn't have enough so we had to wear 2 times.
At this point I have to stop and tell you how unbelievable it is that they didn't have enough - there are at least 20 pajamas between the two of them, though admittedly only a handful of "sets". I also have to point out that wearing PJs more than once, though not our standard, is not a big deal. I did it as a kid and do it as an adult.
Mie - I see. Well in our house you only have to wear your pajamas once and then I'll wash them for you. If you need more pajamas I'll buy them for you.
#19 - Ok we need more pajamas.
Our forever kiddos have learned that other families might do things differently and that's ok. They've learned it is NOT ok for kids to be in need and they've learned how to provide for kids in need. They've also learned that different still must be safe - children cannot live where it isn't safe.
Yes, our kids are introduced to things as foster siblings that they wouldn't have otherwise been exposed to. On the other hand they've also been forced on a regular basis to see that other children and adults don't always have what we have and yet because we have what we have we are able to share with those in need, not just by talking about things but also by doing something about it. Sure there are things that they are topically exposed to (drug abuse, child abuse, neglect) that in an ideal world we'd like to shelter our children from but the reality of this world is that those things exist and it is much better for our children to experience them (from a distance) in a safe, healing family where they also see action taken to fix the problem rather than burying their head in the sand like so many of us American Christians would like to do.
Bottom line - our kids are exposed to "different" concepts as foster children. We work really hard to protect them from the truly dangerous things, as any parents would, while teaching the to engage with the world around them in a positive way. In the end we believe we'll all be better off, by the Grace of God, than if we played ostrich through this life.