Every May, a month that is dedicated to creating awareness about Foster Care, Seven Homes pauses to reflect on what it means to foster and adopt children.
When asked the question "what exactly does a foster parent do," I often think about a line in the song Impossible Dream that goes " to fight for the right, without question or pause, to be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause....and the world will be better for this".
Foster Parents are the ones who turn towards to the world of domestic violence, substance abuse, untreated mental illness, and children traumatized by neglect, abuse and abandonment. Foster parents reach into that world, take hold that child's hands, and softly say " you're coming with me". They are, more often than not, met by a Foster Child that looks up at them with big sad eyes and says " No I am not."
The balance Foster Parents need to achieve is knowing what needs to be done, while also understanding how the child sees what is actually being done. Most of the training done at Seven Homes focuses on trying to help our foster parents view the world through the eyes of they child that they are caring for.
It is important to understand that the anticipation and excitement foster parents feel when a child is standing at their front door is equally matched by the anxiety and fear that the child is experiencing at the exact same moment in time.
Two powerful, opposite, yet equally strong emotions meeting at the threshold of a new beginning for all involved.
As a part of our training, we took a poem written by an anonymous 12 year old girl and dramatized it to tell the story how sexual abuse, adults trying to help, and the transition into foster care as seen through the eyes of a child. For Seven Homes, this poem begins the process of teaching our new foster parents that helping a child is not always perceived as help, and that help itself, can have its own set of consequences.