There is something about being at the grocery store that triggers complete strangers to come up and ask awkward questions or make rude comments. If you’re in any foster parent group, it won’t take long before the stories start popping up. Moms will be stopped in the middle of the cereal aisle when a stranger notices you have kids close in age, of different races, or just a lot of them. All of a sudden, these moms are fielding questions like, “Where did your kids come from? How much did they cost? What did their real mom do? Is that a crack baby? Are you going to keep them?” I shouldn’t have to say this, but please don’t ask those questions, let alone ask them in front of the child.
You’ll hear about the comments and death stares parents get at the check out when using WIC (which all foster children under 5 automatically qualify for). A lot of the time you’ll get annoyed or judgmental looks and the people behind you will switch lanes. I even had someone snap a couple pictures of me making a WIC purchase before, and many parents have been the recipient of nasty comments.
Here’s a story from a foster mom (taken from adoption.com) about her experience using WIC for her four foster children:
” One time I was at the store with 4 kids, 3 were 2yr and under, all kids are different colors (So you can imagine what people already think of me). Two of them were on formula and of course one was a special formula, so two different kinds of formula. So here I am two buggies, one full with kids in it and another with a kid, WIC stuff and some other stuff like clothes and toys (I go to target, the only thing near us that you can buy all at one time). I had 6 different WIC checks. The ladies behind me kept giving me dirty looks. One comment to the other loudly so other can hear, ‘If she kept her legs closed, we would not have to be paying for HER food’ meaning with their taxes.
If she kept her legs closed, we would not have to be paying for HER food
Of course now other people are staring at me and giving me looks. I got so mad. Right before I left (so I had time to think) I looked at the lady and told her, ‘No if I would have kept my DOOR closed these foster kids would be in the street. YOU might help feed these kids, most likely you contributed a dime for this food right now, but I open my home, give them love, spend hundreds on clothes and toys and other food for them. What good deed do you do beside the dime you contributed with your taxes for food for these kids?’ They looked stunned when I walked away. The thing is I was loud too so I kind of embarrassed them, and I noticed other people were now giving them dirty looks instead of me.”
This kind of thing happens more often than you’d think, so it’s heartwarming when you come across a story of a random act of kindness. Below is a story taken anonymously from a support group I’m a part of that will restore your faith in humanity:
“I’ve never had this happen to me before, but I was at the grocery store today with my 3 year old foster son and an older woman behind us was staring at him and oohing and aahing over how cute he is. She told me that he was precious and I answered, ‘I know. Isn’t he?’ Then I said, ‘I can say that without bias because he’s my F-O-S-T-E-R son.’ Her eyes filled up and we talked for a few minutes and she asked if I needed anything and I said, ‘No, but thank-you. God takes care of us and we have all that we need.’ THEN she told me that she wanted to pay for my groceries and that she can’t foster because of her age, but she can help. SO SHE INSISTED on paying for my whole order. I stood there like a blubbering fool trying not to cry. JUST had to share. So encouraging on the hard days. I was there getting the stuff for chicken soup because my daughter had been throwing up all night with the flu.”
Along with that, another news story graced CBS last week when a cashier paid for another foster mom’s groceries. You can check out that story here.
I’ll close this with a simple call to action: don’t be a jerk to strangers at the grocery store.