For those who don't know, Ethan and I had a sibling placement of two boys in July. Their stay in our home came with some challenges, which left us a little frazzled and frayed, but it was their departures that really unraveled us. We'll eventually share a little bit more about our time with Super Spidey and Tiny Captain - we loved them both in their own ways, and we have some really good memories with them - but I'm just not at the point that I can sit down and type it all up yet because we're honestly still processing how both of their placements with us ended. Foster care is a vast ocean, deeper than anyone even knows, and sometimes you stay afloat, and other times you sink below the waves.
Little Ninja (our first placement) and Tiny Captain - while wonderful, wonderful children - were really difficult placements for us. There's nothing worse than feeling like we have failed these children entrusted into our care, and we still feel like we failed them both. Super Spidey was a selfishly redemptive glimpse into allowing us to feel like we were "good enough" to be doing this at all and to have him leave unexpectedly, just when we'd finally found some rhythm and routine, was the first moment that completely broke us. We were prepared for it - knowing that this is the nature of foster care and knowing deep down that it's highly unlikely any of the kids we care for will be in our lives forever - but loss is loss and grief is grief and goodbyes are goodbyes, and the day that things like this don't cause us heartache is the day we'll have been doing this too long.
In the days after Super Spidey left, we were 100% ready to turn in our license. We had only gone through two placements, both less than a month long, and we were physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted and ready to throw in the towel. I told our caseworker that we were most likely done fostering and that we needed some time off from placements, and we even started packing up our foster room; we ignored the unmade beds, the still scattered toys, the unused blankets, the unsnuggled stuffed animals, and we closed the door. It was over. We were done.
I'm not sharing this to be dramatic, but to just be real. We did not walk into this all starry-eyed and imagining a perfect experience, but we also could not imagine the reality of care until we walked through it. Should anyone ever fear that we are doing any or all of this gracefully and put together, let me assure you that we are young, extremely inexperienced, and in over our heads 99% of the time... and we feel young, extremely inexperienced, and in over our heads 100% of the time.
Fortunately, after a couple weeks, a lot of sleep (a LOT of sleep), and a quick vacation to reset (while standing in the ocean and wondering why we don't live on a coast), Ethan and I prayerfully decided we aren't quite done yet. We've talked endlessly about this over the past few weeks and though we can still think of many valid reasons why we shouldn't foster, for every reason, there are 7192 reasons why we should. If you're wondering why that's an oddly specific number, it's because it is the current number of children in foster care in the state of KS**, and I think that statistic speaks for itself.
Ethan and I agreed that though we weren't done yet, we still needed to start with another break from placement, which is why we've been pretty quiet for a couple months now. The agency we work with (that we adore and highly recommend) is amazing about not pressuring us to take placements, so it wasn't until this week that we finally spoke with our caseworker (we also adore her - if there are ranks in Heaven, she's about as close to angel status as you can get) to get back on the list for potential placement. For now, we are planning on taking a couple respite placements before we accept a long-term placement because we (as our caseworker so kindly and accurately put it) still need to "get our confidence back".
Ethan and I are also in a season of big transitions - both in part-time school, Ethan is starting a new full-time job, and I am moving from part-time to full-time at work, so we are taking time to adjust our schedules and think through what adding a baby or toddler or school-aged child would look like practically. More or less, foster care is basically 50% trying to make wise decisions (where we're at right now) and 50% throwing those wise decisions to the wind (where we'll be when we have another placement).
So that's our update right now. Super lengthy, so if you've read this far, thanks for reading my ramblings and for being on this journey with us. I know I say this a lot, but we really couldn't do any of this without our friends and family who have encouraged us, served us, and loved us and our little ones. We've especially been really encouraged by all the people who have told us that they're considering fostering in the future. The foster world definitely needs y'all - every bit as much as we do.
** As of June 2017, cited from "Foster Parent: Need to Know", KS DCF's newsletter for foster parents. English classes, you have all failed me brilliantly in not knowing how to cite this properly.