When you decide to become a foster parent, you bring a child into your home, and do your best to provide them with a stable family. You want them to feel the love and belonging that a healthy family can provide.
There are constant reminders that this child does not belong to you. The many hoops that need to be jumped through, the constant need to get permission for anything from a medical procedure, field trip, and even a haircut, are all reminders of this fact.
Still, we are the ones who are in the trenches. We are the ones cooling a forehead hot with fever. We are the ones drying tears. We are the ones dealing with teething, potty training, tummy bugs, and tantrums.
On the flip side, we also bear witness to the many good things. The milestones, first steps, first teeth, first words. There are sloppy toddler kisses. We become the only one who will do when they need to be soothed. We are the ones who know that child. What their favorite fruit is. What makes them giggle with sweet abandon. What frightens them. What comforts them.
I don't say any of this to be judgmental on birth parents, or the system for that matter. I don't say this to imply that I have a claim on any child that is placed with us.
I say these things as a reminder that this, this foster experience, it's a privilege. It's a gift to be the one to experience life with these children. To be that safe place for them to grow, and to just be a kid.
There is enough that is hard about all of this, and it's good to step back once in a while and remember what we're doing this for.
These kids are with us for a lot of reasons. I frequently think about the fact that the birth parents miss so many ordinary moments, and it makes me sad.
Because of that, I don't want to forget how important the daily, seemingly mundane parts of life are actually important. And it makes me want to do this foster parenting, and biological parenting better each day.