Since answering the call to foster parenting, Scott and I have cared for more than 20 foster children in our home. I have chronicled our journey in the book 'Answering the Call' which will be available for purchase in 2019. In this blog, I've included from the book, the introduction. Please read it with an open heart and maybe even a tissue.
"The stories contained in this book are all true. I lived them and have recounted them to the best of my ability. Foster parents are bound by confidentiality. Therefore, I've changed names, I've been intentionally vague in referencing locations, and in some cases, I've altered chronology in order to obscure identity.
I've written this book for two reasons. First, my hope is to raise awareness of foster care and in the process to dispel some of the ugly stereotypes of foster parents that are so relentlessly reinforced in media. I want to be a voice for foster families and for the more than one hundred thousand children in the United States foster system who are waiting to be adopted. I cannot type 'one hundred thousand children waiting to be adopted' without tears falling. I know I must do something about it. Writing our story is one attempt to make a difference.
Secondly, I've written this book for all my foster children. We all have a story keeper. For most of us it's Mom. Mom, who has your most awkward picture from middle school framed by her bed. Mom, who brags about your first word, your first tooth, and the time you won the spelling bee. Mom, who hangs ornaments you made in kindergarten on the Christmas tree and probably tears up at the memory. But it's a different story for foster kids. The number one reason most of our kids come into our care is 'neglect due to substance abuse'. Most of our kids have never had a birthday cake or a Christmas celebration. They don't know how to sit at a table for a family meal. Parents who are caught up in the destruction of addiction are probably not documenting their children's lives. So most of our kids have no story keeper. Foster parents are encouraged to compile a life book containing pictures and mementos of special days and milestones that occur while a child is in our home. When our kids leave, it goes with them as a way for them to keep track of, and make sense of, their own lives. But the sad truth is that statistically, many of our kids will end up back in the system. In the chaos of being shuffled around one too many times, their life books will be lost along with important things like immunization records, birth certificates, and siblings. They are left with severed ties and without a history.
This book is my attempt to say to my beloved foster children: I SAW YOU. I CELEBRATED YOU. I LOVED YOU. I think of you every day and I keep the story of our time together in my heart. If the road should ever bring you back to my door, you'll be welcomed home.
When I look back over the story I've written, I'm struck by how often I expressed exhaustion and times of crying throughout my foster parenting journey. I was very tempted to change this; to tone it down to make it less bleak. Ultimately I decided to go with the unvarnished truth. The truth is foster parenting is the hardest thing I've ever done. Each child we've fostered has been worth every sleepless night and every tear I've cried. If I had it to do all over again, I would."