We have had the opportunity to share in a large public forum about what our life is like as foster carers recently. It was a fantastic opportunity and a wonderful experience for the kids, and while I hope we were able to share eloquently enough the importance for every day families to become carers, I am not sure we conveyed enough just how difficult every day life can be with a child who has suffered trauma.
When we accepted a placement of a one month old boy for two days, and then thought this little boy would stay a part of our family forever, I never imagined there would be a day that I would say, enough. I so very naively thought that “All you need is love” and my son that the stork brought would live a life grateful for the experience’s we were giving him.
The reality was a toddler who not only got in to things as any toddler would do but one I had absolutely no rest from. It wasn’t until it was pointed out to me by a professional that my whole house was living in fight or flight mode and had been for a long time. Foster carers are often faced with the impossible choice. To continue to care and love a child as best as they can while constantly having their lives interrupted because of experiences that have created nonsensical brain connections. Or they choose to say ‘enough’ and create another trauma in the life of that child as they bounce to another home. These decisions are then compounded by the relationships of the child and other children in the home, the suggestions of the Department worker, the knowledge of other professionals and the age of the child.
None of this is easy.
Living day in and day out in a home full of turmoil that you didn’t create but you openly welcomed with the greatest of intentions that “Love would be enough” is hard. Often Impossibly hard.
Living with the knowledge that you didn’t keep your word and that you have been a part of adding to a child’s experience of being abandoned is hard. Really hard.
So while I will often share of the wonderful moments that we get to be a part of in the life of a foster child, I am not immune, nor unrealistic about the experiences that don’t go as you hoped they would.
I have no doubt in my mind that saying enough was the right thing for my family to do, and it is why we have re-evaluated our capacity as carers and what are motivation is. That is why I passionately share that you must understand what it is that you want out of becoming/being a foster care because the notion of “Loving a child who is in need” is beautiful, but when you are absolutely exhausted, battered and sometimes even bruised and your whole house is crying, you will need more than that because the child needs more than that.