Family and Foster Care

We took the boys with us to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving. They’ve been there before. We spent Easter there too. The boys tend to follow the lead of the girls in figuring out what to call various members of our family, so since they call us Mom and Dad, the boys call us Mom and Dad. They call my parents Nana and Papa, so the boys call them Nana and Papa. Lady Belle belongs to our family, so Lady Belle belongs to them. That’s just the way it is.

When the boys were with us in the spring, it was just the six of us. They saw pictures of the baby we’d had before them, but that’s a little too abstract for 3 and 4-year-old boys, so they didn’t understand. Then they came for a visit in August and it was the normal six of us plus one extra baby. Then they came back in October and it was still the six of us, only this time we also had a 13-month-old. They never asked why or what or how, but just accepted it as the weird way things seem to go sometimes. So I thought they understood that we care for other kids sometimes and they are in that group of other kids we care for. I thought they understood that the six of us live here all the time.

So it shocked the snot out of me today on our way home from Owasso when I heard A5 ask one of the girls, “So who is your mom?” She pointed to me and said, “She’s my mom!” He probed further, “I mean, who is your first mom? Is she your first Mommy?” Again she answered, “Yes! She’s my only mom. And she’s the only mom for all of us girls.” He said, “Really? Did you grow in her tummy?” She told him she did. He got quiet as he processed that.

And we all got quiet for a moment as we processed that. Because it never once occurred to me that he would think the girls are in the same situation he’s in, yet now that I think about it it makes complete sense.

And it makes me sad again. Because what he so desperately needs is a permanent, stable home, where he can love with confidence and live with security that the people he calls Mom and Dad will be Mom and Dad to him; today, next week, next year, and forever.

And I often wonder if he will ever get to experience that. We do our best to make the boys part of our family and treat them like part of our family and love them like family. Yet at the end of the day, they legally belong to the state of Oklahoma. And the state of Oklahoma can come in at any time and move them somewhere else and we have no say in that.

And I think that’s a tragedy. Because family doesn’t treat each other that way. Or it shouldn’t.