Life cycle of a foster case

This post does not reflect factually upon our current case.
It is intended as a mash-up of many experiences, a portrait of any foster placement.
No case is ever like another.
But we’ve been down the track a few times.

  1. Euphoria

OOOOHHHH! Look at him. He’s so adorable, and he’s ours to love! Did you hear we have a new placement? My goodness, I thought there would be more problems associated with something like this. He’s been good as gold. Look at this picture I took of him with his foster daddy/ birth sibling/ family pet/ teddy bear/ bowl of Ramen noodles. Isn’t he darling? He’s so easy to love, too.

  1. Reality Check

Oh my. There are a lot of other people who claim this kid. And they really think they can tell us about him – what he likes, what he wants, what he needs, what he wears. (Where was all that information when they needed it?) He might not be with us very long. A lot of people love him, and are possibly even upset that we have him. He’s used to things we don’t offer. He has a whole history we will never share, except in stories. He carries some emotional weaknesses/ physical challenges/ sorrows we must help him through.

  1. New Normal

In spite of days of slight turbulence, we have settled into life together. We know what makes him laugh and cry. He has enough clothes now, and is enrolled in the right school. We’ve lined up some services. He’s fitting in for better or worse with the rest of us, joining our activities, and starting to be a loved family member instead of a loved stranger. A lot of tentative Firsts are behind us, and a nice collection of good memories we now share.

  1. Hoo Boy

This is going to be quite a bit harder than we thought. How much love does it take to really gel us as his people? He’s just like his bio dad in certain ways – HELP. We’re going to be in this a while. Are we willing to put our hearts on the line like this? What if they ask us to keep him, and we can’t handle it? What if we want him terribly and can’t keep him? How in the world are we going to let this kid go? He’s not as happy as he was. And there are complications we didn’t foresee.

  1. Intensity

This is AWFUL. I can’t believe we signed up for this. How could we have known it would be so hard? Please, Jesus, help me get through this day.

  1. Long View

You know, we went through some rough times there, but we’re making it. We’ve had some unexpected and precious bonding moments that helped turn a corner. He’s showing genuine progress in some issues that had us freaking out a few months ago. I think we can do this for as long as we need to. He feels like part of the family. It’s hard to imagine life without him. They’re asking us to consider adoption.

  1. Connection

This is our son. We’d like to be his family forever. Whatever happens, we are so blessed to have known this child, and we will maintain connection. We will never give up on him; we will fight for his best interests. He is part of us, and we of him, as long as we live. Have you met our beautiful son?

  1. Puncture

We’re going to lose him. Oh God. Now? After all we’ve been through with him, after coming full circle through all that struggle back into joy? From this pain there is no healing. How can I get out of bed knowing he is gone? Oh Jesus, we are going to die.

  1. Enough

Perhaps the adoption goes through after all. Or the drama resolves into workable relationships, and we get to stay in his life even if he can’t stay in our home. Maybe the pain is searing for months, but after a while we have cried enough of the tears to see the truth: We were changed for the better, and we will never again be as we were. Neither will he.

And somehow, impossibly, that is enough.

Thanks to The Boss for the idea for this post.

If you are a foster parent, you will want to pick at parts of it because that’s not how it was for you, and it’s important that I tell the story right. (My personal favorite is when Puncture and Connection replay over and over in the course of the next few months.) I could never capture it all. Tell me.

Why the odd number of stages? Nine? Actually, there is a stage ten, also known as stage one. We call it Reentry.

Soli Deo gloria.

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4 years ago

This is great! I wanted to say the steps cycle ad nauseum, then I read your closing comments. ????

4 years ago

You got that all figured out, the cycle is sadly true. I could identify with every stage.

Christina Zimmerman
4 years ago

So true, we’ve been on the rollercoaster too. We are waiting judges signing on an adoption of a little boy we got at almost 7 month, he was with us a year then went to a relative placement and we weren’t sure we’d ever see him again. 3 1/2 months later he was back with us and now the adoption is basically final. We are blessed.
Now we have a 9 month old 1/2 brother to the girl we adopted when she was three and half. She is 8 now. And just this morning the worker said the maternal granddad is interested. So now we wait to see how interested. He lives about 8 hrs away.

Kaylin Landis
4 years ago

Yes yes and amen

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