Foster parenting, as I am learning can be a series of battles. Battles with children’s behavior being the least of our worries. As “angry elf” sounding some posts have been, thus still true. Our system is not perfect. Earlier I called it, “The system” but we are all part of it so we should take some ownership. Its no one person’s fault but it is everyone’s problem.
In the past two weeks we’ve been faced with challenges. I alluded to these said challenges and in my heart I felt determined to overcome them, to win in fact. With the attitude of picking our battles, I was suited up for war. I am a pretty aggressive advocate. I enjoy a good argument. I think conflict is settled with logical confrontation communication. Even when my mom was here. I baited her for some “discussion” and she gave me the space to verbally process through a few situations.
We had a very important meeting this week. It was a planned “communication” between us and the department. There were some bones to pick. Mostly at us. It turns out being a therapist can be a problem in fostering. I will avoid bashing the statements made as that isn’t the point here. I was super ready for this battle. I was even planning to come with typed documentation, citing policy and stuff. I even had some encouragement. Seems like people agreed with “our” side. With some hefty threats at bay, it was a touchy situation and I knew we had to play the cards just right.
Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself. And demand respect. Be clear of your expectations and rights. I support when people do that. Its time these people learned; you can’t treat people this way.
AND then there are times to sit down and shut the (you know the word I want to use) heck up. Even when you are right. Even when you have all the documentation and policy to back you up. Even when you can out-credential the whole room. Sometimes to win the tug of war you have to let go of the rope (N. Chandler). Sometimes you apologize for whatever you did wrong and hope that will leave some space for repair.
So that’s what we did. With as much humility and sincerity I could muster I sat in that room and listened and apologized. When given the opportunity to list the sins committed against us, we stayed silent.
Some people are disappointed with this move. This was the opportunity to prove a point, they say. Honestly, when the security and safety of these kids are in question…proving points fall to the wayside. These kids need us to care for them and be as flexible as possible with a broken system because they didn’t chose this and they shouldn’t have to be casualties over and over.
Meg felt less comfortable with this than I did. Truth, I am used to being frowned at; even disliked. This is not self-deprecation I am also well loved and have wonderful people who have grace to keep me in their circle. Megan, who is genuinely the kindest person is unfamiliar with being called names. It feels so personal to her. I don’t like it for her either. But when the best complaints are subjective, I can rest my head knowing I am doing a good job. We can deal with personality conflicts and work together, because the children deserve that.
I walked away on the high road and I felt like a champion. The kids get the things that they need: Adults to keep clear heads to work together to make the path to reunification smooth and safe.
In summary, this job is not easy. If we were in it for the money, we would of quit weeks ago. We genuinely want to help children. I am still not sure how sustainable this is for us. We have no control and must be careful with how we use our voice. We know we can’t predict the future and have to take it one day at a time.