On deciding not to do foster care
“Never half-ass two things. Whole ass one thing.” -Ron Swanson
In high school, and a number of times since then, my mom has accused me of burning the candle at both ends. I thought of her when I heard the the above quote on a recent re-watch of an old episode of Parks and Recreation, and thinking of those two phrases together kind of summed up my feelings on the decision Todd and I have made to stop doing foster care.
I don’t really want to go into all of the reasons and all of the thinking that went into our decision, partly because it feels self-indulgent and partly because I tried writing all that out and I didn’t like the way it sounded. But basically I’m still healing from a rough 18 months and realized, after an especially difficult week with two precious children, that I was half-assing foster care and half-assing being a person, because I hadn’t quite figured out how to whole ass being the Hayley that I am becoming. (Or, to say it without cussing, I was burning my candle at both ends – caring for children and trying to take care of myself – and none of us were being properly cared for.) And those precious children in the foster care system weren’t going to be getting the foster mom they deserved out of me, at least not in the immediate future. I needed to step back and take care of my horse before committing to caring for hurting children in such an important way.
So a few weeks ago we sent an e-mail to our worker at the foster care agency telling her that we were no longer going to be foster parents. It was sad but also a huge relief. It feels like a selfish decision, and in some ways I guess it is. But I’ve learned that sometimes to be unselfish in the best, most effective ways possible, you sometimes have to be selfish first.
Right now we feel good about our decision, but we both still think foster care is beautiful and don’t rule out the possibility of being foster parents in the future. And boy do we have the utmost respect for those foster parents still loving those precious children every day. It’s such important work and I’m so glad there are people able and brave enough to do it.