Monday, April 8, 2013

Is It Fair To Our Kids?

After being asked about how hard it will be to say goodbye to a foster child, the second question people ask when they find out we are fostering is often about our own biological kids.  "But what about your kids?  Will fostering be hard on them?  Is it fair to them to take in another child?  How do you handle all of their needs?"

I totally understand these questions, because they are the same questions we asked ourselves many times before we committed to becoming a host family through Safe Families for Children.  I thought I'd share a few of my thoughts on this issue.  I am having a hard time forming them into a cohesive post, because I am still wrestling with the answer myself.  I'm sure years from now I will look back at this post and smile at how much I had to learn, but I am going to share with you where we are at right now.  I would like to retain the right to eat my words later :)

FAIRNESS- "Fair" is the f-word around here.  "Fair doesn't mean that everyone gets the same thing, fair means that everyone gets what they need." I don't know who first said this, but I love it.  I quoted it when I was a teacher, and I quote it as a mother.  And when I think of it, I always harken back to the same memory.  

I was sitting around the dining room table with my sister and a crisis foster child who had just arrived at my parents' house.  She was sticking her pacifier in her mouth in between bites of her sandwich, looking quite timid and upset.  Then my mother did something I had never seen her do (and to this day, have never seen her do again)...she CUT THE CRUST OFF THE LITTLE GIRL'S SANDWICH.  My six-year-old self was puzzled and quite self-righteous over this.  I asked for my crusts to be cut off and my mother refused.  WHAT?!  Then my mother sat down with me and explained some of the many traumatic things happening to the girl- she was away from her home, away from her family, she didn't know us, she didn't know where she would be going next...and didn't I think that maybe, just maybe, if cutting HER crust off made her feel better, that it was an okay thing to do?  At that moment, I was the picture of a resilient child- I had everything I could ever need and more.  I could handle the crusts on my bread, but she could not.  "Fair doesn't mean that everyone gets the same thing, fair means that everyone gets what they need."

I'll admit that just last night, I was feeling a bit guilty about asking my kids to share with our new child. Flower had really tried to share all her toys graciously, but it is hard for her three year old self.  Little Bee was laying in her crib screaming for me to rock HER while I rocked Little Miss to sleep.  But then I thought about it, and I realized that I was rocking the right child.  Little Bee had been snuggled and prayed with and kissed and laid down with her special blankie in her bed in her room in her house and could see her mother sitting four feet away in the rocking chair.  She was the more resilient child.  She may not have liked sharing me, but she handled it.  And while I cannot explain that to her at 18 months, she will come to understand that as she gets older.  

My sister spent some time working in an orphanage in South Africa right after Flower had been born.  I remember her saying how crazy and unfair it seemed to her that all around her were orphans who had NOBODY to care for them, and yet, halfway around the world, my children had adults lining up, literally taking turns holding and loving on them.  If something were to happen to us, my kids are blessed beyond measure with adults who would take them in without a second thought- grandparents, aunts and uncles, god parents and friends.  

As a family, we are equally blessed.  I know I referenced it in an earlier post, but part of our Safe Families training asked the question, "if you were to lose everything you had, how long would it take you to secure a meal?  housing for the night?  housing for a month?"  Less than a minute.  We are blessed beyond measure, and very, very resilient.  What is a crisis for many is an inconvenience for us.  We might bend, but we won't break.  We can handle it...not alone, but surrounded by our friends, family and faith.

And so even if bending is a little uncomfortable at times, we think that allowing ourselves to bend a bit so that someone else doesn't break is worth it.  We have margin in our lives not to make ourselves more comfortable, but so that we can share it with others.  This is exactly the lesson that we hope to teach our children.  I hope that they will come to understand it as these little sweethearts come in and out of our lives.  

Fair is overrated.

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  1. I love what you are teaching them through fostering.

    PS I do a Friday Linky party if you want to link up!

  2. This is really good. Thank you. I am not even married yet but adoption or fostering has gone through my mind many times and I have had this thought.

    I also wondered if fostering a teen, who might have seen to much for his age....his bad language, that can affect my biological kids...?

    Iris♥ @ The BlueBirdhouse

    1. There are so many awesome shirts that are turtle necks...I have a few in my closet. I love the colors and soon I will love the shirt. he he

      Fostering will definitely be something I will consider one day.

      You are also a non-reply blogger....just did a tutorial awhile back about might want to check that out.

      Thank you for visiting.


  3. I found you through Time-Warp Wife and I have to say, this quite possible one of the best posts that I have ever read!

    I was a foster child from 15 years of age on. I was blessed with three good foster homes and I have to say that it takes a truly special family to share their home and their hearts with others!

  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. It's a great post :)

  5. This is wonderful. I'm in Canada, and we're just finishing up the process to become approved as Foster Parents.

    We've been talking a lot with our children (11, 9, 6) about foster children and how they might be sad, scared, etc... but I love your quote about fair! I'm going to write that on our chalkboard.

  6. What an amazing story! You are teaching your children important lessons now that they will carry with them for their entire lives. Compassion and understanding are so important.
    I'm glad you came to my blog today so I come here and could find you!

  7. It is so wonderful that you are a foster parent-what a wonderful mission all around!

  8. What a great way to think about it! As parents, our children are our first responsibility, but that doesn't mean that they need to get everything they want, the instant that they want it, for us to be doing a good job. There's enough to go around - love and affection as well as food, toys, etc., whereas in the homes many foster children come from, there isn't. (I do not have foster kids right now; I've fostered in the past, and have been thinking maybe I'd like to do it again someday...)

  9. It really is a wonderful lesson you are teaching your children! I think my experiences having foster sisters/brothers growing up helped me be a little more compassionate.