We’ve had a couple placements fall through recently, and it’s draining. I now try to proceed cautiously, aware that just saying we’ve been selected isn’t binding and could still change. I don’t go crazy anymore with the prepping, but there are still minimal things you have to do in order to prepare for a child you could be picking up whenever the phone rings. The house needs to be tidied, the room needs the bare essentials for that age group (Do I need to change from a crib to a toddler bed or bring up the bassinet from the basement?), and I need to stay relatively close and available to go get the child. I’ve spent a few days waiting for the call to find out what time a child will be arriving to find out it isn’t happening to repeating the process over again.
I’ve grumbled a little in the process and let my inner Eeyore out here and there. I haven’t been the untarnished representation of patience, but I have learned the following things:
It ain’t over til the fat lady sings.
I learned from the first failed placement that even though we’ve been chosen for a particular placement, it could still fall through. I’ve learned not to tell my son the news until we’re physically on our way to pick up a child, and that has saved me more than once. My son knows that the plan is for another child to come stay at our house, but until it’s happening, I don’t need him to be dragged through the back and forth with us.
I also don’t go out and buy a bunch of diapers, formula, groceries, or whatever else the kids will need immediately. I’ve heard of too many excited foster parents going out and buying bags full of items for the new children they’ll be getting to later find out the children won’t be coming. It’s already disappointing, but the more emotionally invested you are, the more it’s going to hurt when it doesn’t work out.
Bitterness doesn’t look good on you.
Before you chew out your caseworker for your failed placement, don’t. I can only imagine how much undeserved crap they get. Yes, it’s frustrating, but don’t shoot the messenger. Let’s remember that while it looks good in the movies, blowing up on someone never solved anything. Ya just look crazy.
In my work as a teacher, I had one parent who was notorious for sending nasty emails. I’m talking so disrespectful that I had a hard time seeing this individual as anything other than their hateful speech and believing there could be a decent person hidden in there somewhere. That person’s behavior was on the staff’s radar, and what that parent didn’t realize is that you make a name for yourself, good or bad. People won’t want to work with you if you’re difficult or inflexible, but the opposite is true too. Build a good reputation for yourself. Be the easygoing client who can graciously keep her cool when things don’t go her way.
See the forest through the trees.
It’s hard to keep it in perspective, but foster care is about the children, not us. If the placement fell through because the child is going to family, then the child has already achieved the goal of foster care without having to go through the pain of separation. That’s a win. If the child ended up going to another family, then that is the family the agency felt was the best fit. Yes, I know your agency doesn’t know the extent of how awesome you are. You are the bee’s knees. There will be another child that needs YOU and YOUR brand of awesomeness. Just wait.
Let it go.
It’s easy to get nearsighted and feel like nothing will work out because this didn’t. I hate waiting, especially when the waiting is followed by disappointment. You can be miserable while you wait, or you can live your life and be pleasantly surprised when something works out. When single people are desperate for a partner, it seems like it never happens. I have a few single friends that still tolerate me when I tell them to stop trying so hard, but in my experience, people stand the best chance when they don’t need it. And I think that advice is good for most things that you can’t control. Let it go, enjoy your life, and when you’re not desperate for it, that’s the right time for you.
It sucks right now. That’s for sure. You might need a little R&R after the waiting and disappointment has made you mental. So go out for coffee, take a long walk, and enjoy the time that you have now. When you suddenly have a set of children, there will be a lot of things you won’t be able to do anymore. Enjoy as many of those things as you can while you wait.