Planting Seeds for a Family to Water
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After living with my family for 2 years, my foster son was reunified with his birth family. It was a bitter-sweet occasion. While standing in his room, empty of all his things, I reflected on the last 2 years and all the tears, the laughter, the heartaches, and the joy. I will truly miss him.
I remembered my first encounter with his grandfather. He had made a poster with my foster child’s name on it and decided to picket outside the county courthouse for custody. As soon as I heard about it, I immediately felt that he needed an ear. I grabbed my coat and purse and drove there quickly. All the way there I remember thinking, “Will he be receptive to me? Will he tell me to mind my own business?” I knew that I had to try to talk him off the corner, or at least cover over the child’s name with masking tape that I had conveniently brought with me.
I walked up to him with a big smile and an inviting, “How are you today?” Ten minutes later, I was sitting in a coffee shop around the corner listening to him tell me how desperate he was to get his grandson back. Over the next 2 hours, he cried, I prayed, he showed me pictures, we laughed, he cried some more, and then he covered over his grandson’s name with the masking tape and walked me to my car before he left. He clearly needed an ear.
A couple of days after reunification, he told me that the best thing that came out of this ordeal was our talk. I reassured him that even though his grandson is no longer with me, I am only a phone call away.
Whenever I feel teary eyed about my foster son leaving, I quickly remind myself that my job was to plant a few seeds in his life, but his family will be the one to water them.
Although difficult at times, I am always excited to help support children returning home to their families. I am currently a member of the National Birth and Foster Parent Partnership, an initiative that supports birth parents, foster parents, and kinship care providers in building relationships and using their voices to transform systems, policies, and practices to improve permanency outcomes for children and families.