Confession: I attribute a lot of my feelings of discontent to being a foster kid.
O.k., I know what you might be thinking “It’s about darn time you stop blaming and start doing.” I see your point and do attempt to live my life as a doer.
But sometimes…doing this life thing alone without your God given family is tough.
Here are some of the challenges that perpetuate the problem for this former foster kid:
- I didn’t learn to bond as a child and still this can be a bit of a problem.
- As a child and at times as an adult, I can have an insatiable need for attention and can feel let down easily. Can you imagine the impression this left on those who have tried to be there for me?
- Birthdays don’t have much meaning. This is because I never really celebrated them as a child and when it comes time for a birthday, it feels forced and weird. This puts people off.
- Because of the little bit of family I have due to being a foster kid, I have felt incredibly alone in raising my children and yes, my kids felt the loneliness as well. There have been many birthdays my kids have sat by a window for family that promised to come, but didn’t, or even worse, there wasn’t anyone to call.
- I am a follow through person and I really need those who interact with me to be as well. This can cause me to run. Lots of pressure for those who are in a relationship with me.
- Boundaries. Ugh! What are those? You are not suppose to be so open? Who knew? At a young age social workers, psychiatrists, school counselors, judges, lawyers all pushed me to open up to them, some forced the issue within minutes of meeting me. I did not have permission to keep anything private. When my mother willingly signed over guardianship of me she put me in a virtual prison without even a number to identify me. Foster children do not have an identity because of confidentiality reasons. Talk about mixed messages.
- And…when I do share a bit about my childhood, because well, childhoods come up in conversations, I hear “Oh, I’m so sorry.” Depressing, right?
- Flashbacks! Fear! Trembling! As a grown woman I can relive the severe abuse imposed on me and my brothers by the smallest of triggers.
- And the final challenge…social graces. You try growing up in a violent, chaotic home and then try to acclimate yourself to a civil society. Ha! You can’t draw from an empty well. I had a knack at being semi-successful at anything I tried. I moved up from being surrounded by unmotivated, law-breaking people to people who had goals in life. Well, the transition took place rapidly and I felt off balance around goal oriented people. What came naturally to them was an act of manual labor on my part. An example of this awkwardness happened when someone invited my husband and myself to their home for dinner. It completely escaped me that we were to bring something or at least offer. After hosting a few dinner parties myself, I learned this lesson when my attendees each bought wine or a dish to pass. This was very embarrassing. Sometimes I just cut out of someone’s life because there were so many normal social interactions that proved to be too difficult for someone who only witnessed adults behaving badly.
Recently, I have found solace in becoming a foster mom myself despite the questions and statements from my friends, such as, “Aren’t you afraid you will get too attached?” You wouldn’t do it if you knew what happened to a lady I knew who did it. Aren’t you worried you are taking on someone else’s problems? “I know you and you are going to get hurt.” O.K., yes to all their fears. How can I predict the future? What I can predict is my reaction to it. Not to mention, if we all gave in to logic nothing would happen to change the world.
Disclaimer – Please know that fostering is not a replacement for family and nor should you ever go into it expecting anything from it. With that said, I have found peace in being a foster parent because I can relate to foster youth and I feel at home with them. What might hurt, offend or disappoint another adult doesn’t bother me in the least bit. I get their anger and I’m slow to react. I go into it wanting a good outcome for the entire family because I realize their self-esteem is wrapped up in their parents, as was mine.
Why blog about this today? That’s easy. I’m feeling alone. I’m a bit shy about admitting it, but I am. Have you ever wanted to call a loved one with news and then you realize they had passed on as you reached for the phone? Foster care survivors can experience this with important moments in their lives. You want to pick up the phone and realize there is no one to call or you take pause before you dial those numbers and wonder to yourself “Am I bothering them?” This happens because you never feel like you completely belong to anyone.
This freaky foster kid is a survivor like the millions of others you are surrounded by. So no need to worry. This is just a little insight why someone in your life might need some extra patience or a just a smile. So get to it!