“Though no one can make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new end.” Anonymous
We have been a foster family for nearly eight years. During that time we’ve welcomed and said goodbye to many wonderful children who’ve changed our lives. At a party last weekend, a well-meaning new acquaintance commented on being a foster parent. “I could NEVER do that. I could NEVER give them up.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that comment and how, still now, it cuts to my core. What is the appropriate response? “Yes, I can do it because I don’t care when they leave.” “Yes, it’s easy to let go. We just move on to the next placement.” I never quite know how to respond so I smile quietly (not my style) and move on to a new conversation.
Here’s what I would like to say. As a foster family, we are dedicated to helping the children in our care ‘make a brand new end.’ Whether it’s with a relative who steps up, or a new adoptive family, or back in to their renewed, re-motivated and re-educated biological family. So when it comes time to say goodbye, and help our children transition to their ‘brand new end,’ we suck it up, we create a lifebook for their time here, we take a traditional trip to Chuck E. Cheese, we give them a copy of Dr. Seuss “Oh The Places You’ll Go” for their life going forward and we say ‘see you later’ (never goodbye). Then we close the door of the car and tearfully drive away. I have likened the experience to having a tooth pulled without novocaine. It never gets any easier.
May is foster care awareness month. I hope those who read this will take a few minutes to think about the more than 10,000 children in foster care in Arizona. Many are living with relatives, many are living in family foster care and too many are living in group care facilities and shelters. You don’t have to become a foster family to help. You can fill “Just for Me” bags for children for their first night in care. You can become a member of a Foster Care Review Board or a Court Appointed Special Advocate. You can become a mentor for a child in a group home. You can help a child create a ‘brand new end.’
(Kris is a foster family with Arizona’s Children Association)