Fostering has proven to bring a great deal of awkward moments in our lives. From the first time someone said, “Oh, he looks just like you.” to people just not knowing how to respond! The experience goes a little like this, “Oh, I’m so excited for you.” and then they realize the reason we have a foster child in our home, and they begin to back-peddle, stutter, and their face turns to sheer panic like they just ran over our dog. It is okay to be excited and troubled. The reality is… no one knows what is going on.
Picture driving through the city of St. Louis. From just about any area of the city you can see the Arch. There are 100 different ways you can navigate the streets to get the Arch. You can take an ally, side street, Market, Pine, Washington, etc. no matter which road, which curve, turn, or path you can see the Arch. There are 100 different ways you can take to reach the Arch. To add to the illustration lets say that your iPhone spends more time saying, “recalculating”, than actually giving you directions. There is no GPS there is just the Arch in the skyline and a 100 different options to get there.
This is how we feel. We know that reunification is the goal (the Arch), and there are 100 different ways to get there – more turns than we could ever consider. Some of the roads might set us back, some of the roads might have a dead end, some of the roads might be scary (especially at night when it is getting dark and there is smoke coming out of a man hole). There are 100 different ways this journey could take us. Some of the journey is fun and exciting, but most of the journey is full of uncertainty – that manhole experience.
Will we have to adopt? Will the baby go back with mom? Will other family come into the picture? How is mom doing? Can we come alongside her? What does that look like? Should we be excited to have a baby? Should we allow ourselves to really connect and attach? What if we really open up and then he goes back with mom? I mean, that’s what we want, but what will that experience feel like?! WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN?!?
So many roads that equal so many different experiences and emotions. The reality is… we know we are headed to the arch – our eyes are transfixed on reunification. We can see reunification peaking over the buildings, we are trying to navigate that direction, but we have no idea what is at each turn.
You are all right there with us. As you enter into conversation with us stop worrying so much about what you say. I mean, exercise a little tact, but know that we are feeling just as awkward and weird as you. It’s okay to be weird. Let’s just take a minute and call out the obvious. This whole process is a weird and awkward experience. The emotions are all over the place for everyone. On one hand we are all excited, and on the other hand we are all troubled. Fostering is an exciting and difficult line to walk. However, this is the line we have chosen for our family and friends. We totally get it because we are right there being weird with you. We love you, and we are thankful that you walk with us.
Here is how you can navigate the weird:
1.) Keep us focused on the Arch – Reunification. Walk with us as we navigate this thing without a GPS.
2.) Keep asking questions. As you ask questions you actually help us engage in good conversation as a family.
3.) Relax. You do not have to act like the chick from “Superstar”. Take your hands out of your armpits, stop smelling them, and embrace the awkward with us.