“The text message read, ‘I got a job.’
I was instantly elated upon reading it, and I can’t even begin to express the joy this message brought. Baby C’s bio mom got a job. It might seem small, but it’s such a significant part of her case plan—something she has to complete for reunification. It’s been a long few months. Mom initially seemed super motivated, but when push came to shove at the 6-month mark, she started backsliding, so this is really great progress.
I very quickly messaged her back how excited I was, wished her congratulations, and told her how proud I was of her. It’s not the first time I’ve said those words to her in the last few months but this was the first time she simply replied, ‘Thank you.’ Every time before this was met with, ‘It means a lot. I’ve never had someone say that, or someone to support me.’
She is finally settling into what it looks and feels like to actually be loved and supported, and it’s beautiful to watch. Simple things most of us take for granted, like love and support, are just simply missing from some people’s lives, and to no fault of their own. In their place sits generational trauma, abuse, manipulation, and the ugly side of addiction. But what if we can change that? Even if it’s just for one person. What if with just words I can change that for her?
When I took my foster parent classes, there was a huge emphasis on supporting biological parents/families and what it could and should look like, and I was excited. I’d never witnessed that aspect of foster care in the way they spoke about it, and I couldn’t wait to pour my love and support into a biological parent/family. I had all kinds of grandiose ideas of what it would look like—from playdates to family BBQs.
Our Foster Family
Then I became a foster parent, and my first case…well, it didn’t go anything like that. It was literally the complete opposite. I tried, I really did, but at every corner, it was met with opposition, defiance, ego, manipulation, and so much distance it was impossible. I thought I failed. It took me a long time to accept it wasn’t me, but I yearned for an opportunity to do it differently.
Enter Baby C. My husband and I weren’t 100% about taking another placement when we got the call for him but something told me we had to say yes. Now, 6 months later, I’m totally convinced I was supposed to be his foster mom for a reason. I’m convinced we are supposed to be the foster parents for his biological mom. On day 1 she wanted my phone number so she could meet and talk. I admittedly remember rolling my eyes at first.
The foster home he was in before coming to us had told us they talked to his mom regularly. I remember thinking and even telling my husband, ‘No way that is happening.’ Guess what guys? 6 months in and his mom and I haven’t missed a day yet with some form of communication. She texts every day to ask about him; I send her photos and tell her about his day. She occasionally asks how I’m doing and asks about my little man too. She updates me on her life. We’ve become friends of sorts.
I’m here to tell you that supporting a biological parent looks nothing like I thought, nothing like the class PowerPoint described. It’s better and worse, and WAY harder than I ever imagined, but also so much more rewarding than I ever imagined.
I sit writing this as Mama D (Baby’s C’s mom) is feeding her little guy with tears dripping down her face, which brings tears to my eyes. I care for her so deeply. I have so much empathy for where she is. I have so much sadness for where she has been, but I also have so much hope for where she is going.
I can hear the whispers in the background already from friends, family, case managers, fellow foster parents telling me I’ve gotten too close, telling me I’m naive, telling me it won’t make a difference, telling me I’m going to get hurt. I hear you, but I’m choosing love instead. Because she deserves it. And without limitations or judgments or false promises. Everyone deserves to be loved unconditionally, the way she loves her child.
So for right now, I’m doing that. It’s changed a lot over the last few months, as I’m sure it will continue to, and I could write a million pages about the ups and downs of supporting a biological parent. But for right now, I’m simply just going to keep loving her. Because every single person is worth loving.”
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