Now that it has been a couple months, I have some more thoughts about being a Foster Mom. We can definitely see God’s hand in it all–to grow us and to help these little ones have some stability and experience consistent love and attention. My prayer is that they will continue to grow in the ways we have seen them grow when they leave us.
One thing I did not fully realize was how quickly I would become attached to these children. Even though life is much more chaotic for me with two more little ones, and our house does not always sound peaceful with more little kid arguments than before, I do not want to quickly let these boys go. I love seeing all 5 play well together and starting to share and encourage one another and watch out for one another. It is super sweet.
I also did not expect just how affectionate they are and how much they just want to sit with me and have my individualized attention. They very quickly embraced calling me “Mama Lori,” which is sweet, and they love reading books and giving hugs and sitting on my lap (although the battles with Judah over who gets to sit on my lap are sometimes tiring, especially when it is at church during the service—haha).
Being my first time at this, I am afraid that they will feel confused and abandoned by me when they move on from our home. They are so used to hearing me say I love them, and I just pray that they don’t think that was hollow talk—I do love them so, but I know they will not be with our family long-term, so that is hard.
I think the bottom line is that I have to do what I can and not worry about what I can’t control. I can control whether my parenting is consistent now. I can control how I react to disobedience, and how I help them grow in developmental tasks and learning to care for themselves. I can control the love and affection I pour out on them. I can talk about how I want them to know they are safe here and that we want to bless them and that God loves them and wants them to come to Him just as they are. But ultimately I have to entrust their little lives to God, and pray that He will guide their steps in safety and hope.
Another thing that I have spent significant time thinking about is how kids with Trauma in their lives need special attention and care. While I am trying to treat the foster boys just like I treat my own birth children in many ways, I am giving them an extra dose of gentleness in how I execute discipline. I have realized that often lying is a reaction to a feeling of having no control, and trying to control results. I have had a no-tolerance stance towards lying with my birth children, but have had to learn with these boys to try to get down to the deeper issues behind the lies before I can just nip them in the bud. Fear is a strong emotion, and patterns of defensiveness and protection do not disappear overnight. So compassion and expressing understanding, yet being firm and giving better choices seems to be a better path. We still do time outs and natural consequences for misbehavior, but I spend more time working through how to calm down and self-soothe, and spend more time talking after a consequence about why it was important and how much they are loved, and why I care more about their growth than about just letting them have what they want. I certainly don’t claim to be doing things just right and am learning day by day, but I am thankful for an extra helping of Grace from the Lord as I seek to direct their little hearts toward health, truth, and wholeness.
I am pulled in so many directions, yet I would not trade this experience. I am confident in God’s sovereignty in each choice we make and am thankful that He is with me as I walk this road of life, work, marriage and parenting.