You are more than a foster kid. You are loved. You are wanted. You are a world changer.
-From a former foster kid.
My name is Brittaney. I’m a midwest girl turned loyal New Englander. Former foster kiddo, current foster mama. I’m married to my sweet husband, Justin, and this coming November we will celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary. Over the last three years we have fostered three amazing kids and hope to adopt our son out of foster care late this summer. Foster care has always been apart of my story. I was adopted out of foster care when I was seven and was gifted this beautiful life that I am incredibly proud of. I have always wanted to gift that to someone else one day, which led me to becoming a foster parent.
Growing up in foster care was really hard. I grew up much faster than I should have and by the time I made it to my last foster home I felt sad, broken and abandoned. I am still working through past trauma and I’m almost thirty years old. Never underestimate the power of a good therapist and a Target trip. One is usually a little cheaper than the other….(Therapy is cheaper).
Sometimes I have flashbacks of really hard moments in foster care…moments I wish I could edit right out of my story. But since I can’t do that, I instead try to use those moments to remind me of the foster home I want to be. So we go out to dinner more than we should. We hand out all the hugs the kids can stand without getting annoyed. We have dance parties in the kitchen. We laugh. We laugh a lot. We talk things out on the thinking couch. And we wake up every day with the intent to be better than we were the day before.
Growing up in foster care has given me the ability to understand, just a little bit, of what my foster kids are going through.
When my second foster daughter showed up on my doorstep in the winter of 2017, I felt a lump in my throat. She looked just like me. Not just in a “she could pass as my daughter” kind of way. She looked just like me twenty years ago. She had the exact same crooked bangs and short haircut. The tiny baby teeth. The sad eyes. Every time I looked at her I was reminded of myself.
One evening she was taking a shower and a shampoo bottle fell off the shelf and onto her leg. I knew it had to have hurt her, but she didn’t say a word. I knelt down on the bathroom floor and said “Ouch, that HAD to hurt! You know, it’s ok to cry. You are allowed to cry”. So she did. Her cries turned into wails and I knew it wasn’t about the shampoo bottle anymore. I picked up this soaking wet four year old, wrapped her in a towel and held her in my lap while she cried. She soaked my jeans. My t-shirt. My eyes.
I sat with her for over an hour. Finally, I felt her calm and lean into me the same way my own foster mother had felt me do twenty years earlier. Nothing I could have said to her would have made the situation better. We both knew that. And it was that moment I knew that I was the best lap she could have found herself in that day.
I’m not going to lie to you though… sometime’s foster care sucks. Can I say that? It is hard to watch people you love go through hard things. It is painful to watch judges make decisions you know will end badly. There are so many days I want to call my social worker and tell her to permanently wipe my name off the white board. But I don’t. Because as much as it sucks, we don’t do it for us. We do it for them. Sometimes that’s the only thing that keeps me moving forward. A lot of people are nervous about becoming foster parents and if you look for fear, you will find it. If you look for joy, you will find it. If foster care has been on your heart… go for it. There are some kids laying awake at night dreaming about what it would be like to sleep in that spare bedroom of yours.
I was that kid laying awake dreaming of what being in a family would be like. Because of this I base my entire life around one statement, and it’s what I would say to any kid sitting lonely and afraid in the foster care system, “This stops with me”. The poverty. The addictions. The generational curses. This stops with you. The most exciting days of your life are all ahead of you. Study hard in school. Find the right friends. Take that job. Travel the world. Fall in love. You are more than a foster kid. You are loved. You are wanted. You are a world changer.
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