May is National Foster Care Month! To kick things off, I wanted to share a piece of writing from an 18 year old who was raised in a home that does foster care. People often wonder what fostering is like for biological children in the home, and this piece offers that insight.
As you read the article about the children that are taken from their home because of abuse, you say a little prayer for them, but we prepare our home for them. You go through your old clothes as you grow and create a donate pile, while we put them away in a tote for the next child.
As you stare at the family that does not look alike, we stare and wonder how we became so blessed. As you warn your kids and friends about drugs, we are taught how to handle a detoxing infant and toddler. As you take a family photo and try to get everyone to smile, we are trying to take a photo with only half of our family without them feeling left out.
As you look an object that holds a memory, we look at an object and cry because it holds too many memories. As you walk quickly by the screaming child in the store, we are trying to calm them down because they’ve seen a trigger. As you drive by the courthouse and see a packed parking lot, we pull in with an uneasy feeling not knowing if all the beds in the house will be filled tonight.
As you hear the cop car flying by, we wait for them to come and patrol because of threats. As you make fun of the child that is behind in school, we praise them for learning the ABC’s. As you sit down for dinner and eat until you are full, we sit down and pray that there will be no food hiding and eating until they puke.
As you lay in bed unable to fall asleep, we lay and wait for the crying to begin. As you see the mom that is tired and wonder why she is still having kids, my mom is praying that the store has formula.
As you post a family photo on social media, we place stickers on faces. As you drive by the family that is handing kids to another family with tears in their eyes, we are handing a piece of our heart over. As you see a state car in a driveway, we see the car that will be taking away part of our life. As you wave goodbye to someone you love and say see you soon, we wave goodbye, holding back sobs, saying I will always love you. As you look at the empty bed in your house, we close the door to the bedroom because toys are still scattered everywhere and it reminds us of them.
Our family does not look like a normal family. Our family does not love like a normal family, nor do we act like one. Our family has been broken and hurt but built back together so much stronger. Our family is one of a kind. Our family is messy, loud, crazy, and beautiful.
We never know what the next day or even phone call will hold, but what we do know, is that we are strong because we must be. We are foster strong. So next time you see a family that does not look normal, do not judge, do not turn away. Smile. They are going through hell because they hold an indescribable love.
Written by Joslyn Nelkie (age 18)