“Ready or not, here I come!”
If I were playing Hide-and-Seek, as a “hider”, and the countdown was on, I’d be at about 1 if given 10 seconds to conceal myself. I’d be preparing myself to be revealed by the seeker, uncovered, and on display. I’d be listening for footsteps coming my way any moment. ..feeling vulnerable.
Hang with me…
I’m not playing a game of Hide-and-Seek, but I am in my final week before becoming a foster mom. We are supposed to be officially opened as a foster home late this next week (after signing one last thing on Wednesday afternoon). And the above metaphor is exactly how I am feeling today. I’m preparing myself to be revealed, on display, vulnerable. And honestly that SCARES me. You see, I think some people assume foster moms MUST be saintly and perfect. But I am far from that. I am a mom just like many of you reading…a mom who doesn’t always have it all together, a mom who is not perfect and makes mistakes, a mom who yells at her kids some days and regrets it, a mom who puts herself in time out (or plays “hide and seek”…in the pantry…haha) because I need to cool off or have a moment. I’m human. And I am scared to be “on display” as a foster mom. Scared to be vulnerable. Scared to have the blanket ripped off my parenting and my family…exposing our imperfections & short comings.
I’m “listening” for the little feet coming my way any day now (that first phone call will undoubtedly make my heart race).
I’m picturing what their faces will look like when they “find” me…when they find “home base” (their temporary home).
And I am preparing my heart to fall in love with them and quite possibly have to say goodbye.
But “ready or not, here they come”. Their little feet will enter my home some day (or night) in the coming weeks and my heart will be SO vulnerable.
I’ve prepared as much as possible. No amount of preparation will make this easy.
But you know who’s WAY MORE vulnerable than me? These babies and toddlers without families. Without anyone to count on, collapse into– no support system like I have. And they need attachment WAY MORE than I need to be protected from the heartbreak of it.
So here we go.
Many have asked, “how do you prepare yourself for this?”. In addition to the more practical steps I shared in (What To Expect When You’re Expecting A Foster Child?:), I wanted to share the ways I have attempted to prepare my heart and mind for what’s to come.
5 Ways to Prepare Your Heart & Mind For Fostering:
1. PRAY. I know I always start with this, but honestly I am counting on God to make this all work. Because, logically, this seems crazy. But we trust The One who has all the answers, Who is perfect, Who knows all that the future holds…our future and the futures of the babies and toddlers He will place in our care.
2. READ. I’ve been reading a lot this past year. Below are some books I have read that have helped me a lot in parenting in general, in preparation for parenting children with traumatic backgrounds, and in preparing my heart for fostering. If you only read one book, read The Connected Child, co-authored by Dr. Karyn B. Purvis. It really equips you practically speaking as Dr. Karyn B. Purvis shares effective research-based ways to help children with histories of trauma, abuse, and neglect. Blogs are also an awesome resource as you can follow along someone else’s journey and feel connected as well as learn from their experiences.
3. LISTEN. There are tons of YouTube videos on topics such as Reactive Attachment Disorder, Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), etc. Just search for those terms or Karyn Purvis and you will find a ton to start with. I also listened to lots of Podcasts (while folding laundry, cleaning, driving, etc). The Forgotten Podcast, by The Forgotten Initiative, has been my favorite, but there are many others. The Forgotten Initiative.
4. REACH OUT. Once I started telling people that we were going to be fostering, friends started connecting me with their friends and friends of friends who foster. This was great because we know no one personally who fosters. I also got connected with someone who will likely be my mentor through the official mentoring program in KY. I met her for coffee Monday morning and she shared stories and advice from her 9 years of fostering 13 kids and adopting 6! I am so thankful for people like her who are willing to share what they have learned through experience (and take time away from their SIX kids!). It makes me feel less alone knowing I at least have a few phone numbers I can call or text with questions, concerns, or just to vent. We all need mentors in life, fostering or not.
5. BUILD COMMUNITY. I hear fostering is a quick track to isolation if you aren’t careful. Not everyone will understand & accept the journey you are on. But, try to surround yourself with people who encourage and support you, so when the going gets tough, you don’t feel all alone.
I hope these 5 ways are helpful to someone else starting the journey. And if there is anyone out there reading this that wants to connect with me, I am more than willing to listen, talk, and offer up what little bit I know so far 😀
I am definitely nervous, but I feel I have done all I can to prepare, and now I place the rest in God’s hands. Please pray for us, the child/children God will place in our home as our very first placement, and for their family.
And thanks for all who have supported us, means a lot!
Ready or not…