The flip side of foster care

He’s a handsome little guy and when he’s sweet, he’s so very sweet. I tell him that when I can. “J5, has anyone ever told you what a sweet boy you are?” He grins and looks away. Like most boys growing up in this technological age, he’s fascinated with the iPad and asks to play it several times a day. I give him turns, but sometimes tell him he needs to find something else to do. We have plenty for him to do. He likes blocks and cars and playdough. Telling him, “no,” to the iPad is about the only thing he accepts that response on. If we tell him no to, say, having a doughnut at bedtime, or if we tell him no to hitting one of the girls in the face hard with a stuffed animal, he flips an internal switch and moves into a rage I’ve never seen in a child before, let alone experienced or had directed at me.

And I hate to admit it, but there’s just so much, “I hate yous” and 20-minute in-your-face screaming sessions I can take. I’ve cried a lot this week. I’ve prayed for the next phase for this one to come quickly.

As Craig mentioned, he is bearing the physical brunt of things, as when J5 moves into one of these full-scale melt downs, Craig has usually been here to help and by help, he’s the one to get hit. When this is happening, I make the girls go into a bedroom or downstairs and I join them. We let Craig handle this as much as possible.

As it was happening again last night, I shot an email off to my case worker and asked her to intervene to speed things up for his long-term placement. I confessed weakness. I confessed fear.

And today, a new day, he wakes up sweet again. He eats cereal and plays quietly, and coos at Baby M for a little before running off for more toy time. And I know we’ll have a pretty decent day and I feel guilty for my email last night. But, lo, the night is coming, and I do dread it. I dread it every day.

It is hard not to blame the boy. It is his behavior that is acting out against us, but is it really? He is living what he’s learned. And he’s old enough to know this isn’t where he belongs and he’s not where he wants to be. He’s not thankful that we’re keeping him out of the shelter for this short season. Should he be? He’s five. Five year old boys don’t belong in shelters, and they know it. So they aren’t grateful to the family who takes them out of it. No, they are just angry that they aren’t with their family anymore and now the people to blame aren’t the workers who removed them from their home, or the shelter where we picked him up, but us. In the eyes of J5, we are the ones keeping him from home. And for the majority of each day, he’s content and happy here. But then something happens that reminds him and suddenly we’re the enemy again. This happens every day and I’m losing my mind in the waiting for it to happen and weathering it while it does. Every day.

Foster care is not all baby coos and snuggle puppy fun. These are real little people who have already experienced really hard things.

And once again I find myself saying this is not the way things are supposed to be and begging God to come and make all things new again. Because these kids, because I, so desperately need Him to.

So we wait. And we pray. And we hope.

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12 thoughts on “The flip side of foster care

  1. Rebecca says:

    God will use all these experiences, even the wretched ones, to shape your life. To shape our lives. The world around you watches and learns when you write here. Thanks, Megan. May the Lord give you grace and joy today.

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  2. Michele P says:

    Oh, this so spoke to my heart. We adopted our youngest at 21 months old, and have experience the rages you describe. I am sorry, as I KNOW how hard it is to stomach day after day, how you start to dread that time of day, or are afraid to set him off. I breaks my heart to think of what that child has been through that triggers that behavior, the hurt he must hold in his heart and the fear that he lives in. Keep reminding yourself that it is not personal, and that any ounce of love you can bring to his day is a bigger blessing than you will be able to fathom. His five year old brain cant even express what he feels. God is shining down on you and I will pray are gives you strength, patience and an extra bit of love for that sweet boy. May you be richly blessed for the gift you are giving those children! Hugs and many prayers being sent your way!

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  3. Chelsea says:

    So hard. I’m sure he has seen and experienced and endured more than we could ever imagine, yet the rages are very scary. Press on, dear friend. You are making a difference, not only in his life but more so in your own children’s.

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  4. Our Country Road says:

    You know, my five year old becomes a heap of tears when he is tired. He is nearly inconsolable when I am not home. I cannot imagine how he would be if week in and week out I was not there for him. And, I certainly wouldn’t want to be the one trying to console him if I were gone. I can only imagine how hard that must be for you. Crazy enough, it’s probably the time he needs you the most. Praying for you!

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  5. Dawn says:

    We have never fostered children, but have seen friends who have gone through similar struggles in the children they have fostered. I think the most pathetic sound I have ever witnessed was the inconsolable screaming of a newborn baby as she was experiencing all of the withdrawals of crack addiction. As much as your heart goes out to them, these difficult times can be exhausting and frustrating that can certainly trigger all of the emotion in you that God created you with. I really struggle with our foster care’s system of having a goal of always trying to reunite these children with their parents, when the reality is that it was the actions or neglect of these same parents that have lead their children down this road. Praying for your family as I close.

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  6. Tracey says:

    M,
    I feel this post. I would say in foster care I never cried so hard and I never laughed so hard. In the end though, I would say that never in my life have I prayed for Jesus’ return like I did then. I was on my knees praying that He would return and heal our broken lives. I am now 12 years out. The children that I had in my home at 5 and 3 years old are now in my life, again. The 3 year old (now 15) is asleep upstairs. Foster care is a journey. It is not for the faint at heart. Thank you, God, that your mercies are new every morning.

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  7. Leslie says:

    I literally could write this post right now. Thanking you for being honest for being vulnerable, thank you for being obedient. Found this link on pinterest and was grateful for it tonight.

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