You probably know how those conversations go. You mention your family is a foster family and they cut you off with
“Oh, I thought about doing foster care”
Quickly followed by the cringe-worthy
“But I would just love the kids too much to give them back.”
And before you can explain that love is exactly what kids need, they change the subject. Usually they suddenly remember they have to meet so-and-so for lunch. If you’re lucky, you will get a little pat on the back as they tell you
“I am glad your family can do that.”
To be honest, I think it is awkward for both of us. People outside of foster care don’t know what to say- or end up repeating the above conversation. And I don’t know where to start. Being a foster family has affected every aspect of my life. It is such a normal part of my days that I sometimes don’t know how “normal” people live.
Can I suggest something for both sides?
To those who wonder how to respond to a foster family: listen. You don’t need to say much. Ask questions. In listening you will gain a better understanding of how foster care works. With that knowledge, you will begin to see why foster families dread the “I would love the kids too much” phrase (which is another post for another day).
To those involved in foster care: never give up trying to talk, while balancing it out with people who listen. Sometimes it is in the not giving up that you will discover someone who wants to hear what you have to say. It is also good to have a friend on speed dial* who “gets it”. They can give you energy to deal with people who don’t care what you have to say.
Next week I will post about something that is making me happy, related to this topic. In the meantime, what advice would you give people who don’t know what to say? What questions do you have for a foster family?
*And do people still use speed dial?