Last year everything changed for me. We had fostered before. This sweet girl wasn’t our first baby to love and let go.
But somehow through all of our previous foster children I had managed to maintain the idea that I was the better parent in all of this. That for some reason these children really deserved to have me more than their biological parents deserved to be able to parent them. That I truly was the better parent and that anyone with half a brain would see that these kids needed to stay with me, for their own good.
And then we got baby Mary.
Her parents had been struggling with a hardcore drug addiction for years and years. This wasn’t their first CPS case and they had lost custody before. The case seemed so black and white to me at first. Of course baby Mary should stay with us. She deserved better than that. She deserved me.
But then the visits started. And every single week Mary came home with formula and diapers and new clothes. Every week her parents brought a disposable camera for us so that we could take pictures of her through the week and then send the camera back with her to the next visit for them to develop.
Her parents started a journal and they wanted to know every detail of what was going on – doctor’s appointments, milestones, what we was happening in our family. And every week they expressed deep thanks to us for taking care of their baby girl.
I went to court with them. I heard them stand before the judge and express how desperately they wanted their baby girl back and how they were going above and beyond what was asked of them to make sure that they could provide her with a safe place to call home. I heard the results of every drug test – negative. I saw them searching for jobs and finding a stable place to live and getting a car.
And then I realized the truth.
Mary’s parents changed me. They changed the way I view foster care and adoption. They turned me into the world’s biggest cheerleader for the parents of my foster children.
Yes, I would love to adopt more children. But if there is a child in my home whose parents are really trying, I am going to do everything in my power to support them and encourage them and help them get to the point of being able to care for their child again.
Because fostering isn’t about me. It is about a child and it is about a family. But it is not about me.
Jenn is an adoptee turned foster, biological and adoptive mom. She blogs about life, faith, foster care and adoption at buildingmommymuscles.com.