I’m not sure why, but I guess I haven’t ever actually written about my journey to “foster parenting” this past year. A few months after I lost my job due to layoff, I put an ad out for a room mate to help with the mortgage. I was approached by the Boys & Girls Club to provide room and board for homeless youth. Some of these kids had behavioural issues and were kicked our or ran away from home, and some of them left abusive homes. I knew it wasn’t really what I was looking for – a financial boost during my unemployment – but I figured that since I’d had to put my adoption file on hold, maybe this would be a way for me to find fulfillment in the meantime. I wasn’t going to make any money having to house and feed these youth, but the program paid me enough to take care of them so it wasn’t costing me anything, either. I decided to go for it, and so far I’ve had 4 placements through that program. I was later approached by someone in the community about taking in a youth who was in foster care, but had to leave her current home. She became my 5th placement. Until then I’d just had one placement at a time, but right now I have two.
Some of the kids were just here for respite, when they needed a place to stay for a weekend while their “foster parents” went away, but some of them were here longer. One girl, whom I became very close to, was here for two months over the summer. We developed a close bond and we maintain that connection. She still comes for occasional respite and sometimes just to visit, we text all the time and she’s invited me to her high school graduation this year. Not all of the experiences I’ve had have been positive, but that one – knowing I made such a significant difference in her life – has made it all worth while.
Some of the other ones weren’t as easy, they struggled with addiction, behavioural, mental health and attachment issues. There’s been a lot of yelling, I’ve been trash talked behind my back and told off more times than I can count, I’ve had minor damage to my home, I’ve been emotionally abused and accused of the most ridiculous things. Despite that, the hardest part for me is when I recognize that there’s nothing I can do for them; that the needs they have are beyond the scope of what I can provide, and it’s time for them to move on.
It’s devastating knowing that you can’t help someone, despite your good intentions and best efforts. It makes me sick watching them pack their things and move on, knowing what they’ll be faced with, but also that some of them have to learn it for themselves, the hard way. It’s difficult feeling like just another person who’s deserted them when all they’ve ever wanted out of life was to be loved unconditionally. But then, there’s the ones that you did help, even in the smallest way. If one made it through a bought of depression and feelings of suicide and started going to school again, then it’s worth it. If one learned to trust again, then it’s worth it. I’ve learned that even though I couldn’t help them all, it’s worth it for the ones that I have.