Monday, August 12, 2013

A Bullet and A Target


How can it be possible to feel both gratitude and loss all at once? Is it reasonable to admit that you feel the freedom left by an absence but you would trade in that freedom happily any day? Or is this a cop-out because it was never your choice to begin with?

Why don't we move forward another way like most of the others? Why don't we pursue adoption? Why won't I sacrifice more in order to make this a reality?

Maybe it's the little voice. I just have not let go of the glimmer of hope that one of these days this is going to happen for us. If it does, I swear I am going to buy the drug store out of pregnancy tests. I will lock myself in the bathroom and take one after the other just to watch that second line appear again and again!

Maybe it's the stubborn, rebellious inner teenager that says' "NO! You can't make me!"

If I thought I felt degraded at the doctor’s office, I had a reality check coming to me when we started to navigate the waters of the foster care system. The task at hand this time was to convince strangers that ours would be a wonderful environment for a child.

We asked our friends to take time out of their days to meet with case workers to attest to the stability of our character. There were background checks, finger prints, 12 weeks of classes; 4 hours, one night each week. We learned about all of the reasons people abuse their children. We were told it was important to have compassion for the birth families. Of course we were being put under a microscope. We ARE being entrusted with someone's children after all. Yes, that someone may have starved and beaten their child scarring them emotionally and physically for the rest of their lives yet, they still deserve respect and compassion.   

I remember sitting in those classes and feeling my blood boil. Week after week we heard examples and cases of abuse and were coached to believe it is best to subject a child to more of the same as the birth parent is allowed to re-enter their lives again and again to see if they can pass the test.

This is probably the biggest reason I am not cut out to be a foster-mother. In my mind; THEY ALREADY FAILED. I don't agree that a birth parent should be given an endless number of chances to get their shit together when a child's LIFE is at stake. I know it hurts a child to be separated from their birth family, even an abusive one; but I don't buy into the theory that the perpetrator should be treated as a victim. I will not sympathize with people who abuse their children. I don't believe their circumstance excuses their behavior.

That may make me sound cold but I am so tired of our modern day mind set. Accountability seems to have been lost and replaced with entitlement. Maybe if more parents feared REAL loss fewer kids would be abused. If we raise the stakes; can we raise the standard?

We sat down with a case worker to complete our "home study." We hashed out our entire life stories; the good, the bad and the ugly. To me this felt like begging someone to grant me something that so many took for granted and that so many abused. Once again, I found myself burning up with resentment. I resented every single second of it.

As a disclaimer, I must add that I do understand why the system is in place. I just don't feel it's effective. While my home was inspected for general safety & condition no one had any concern with our outbuildings. Wasn't there a case a few years back where foster parents were keeping kids in cages in the garage? And this isn't even on their two page itemized check list? Thanks to this process we now have a smoke detector installed in our home every 300 sq. ft. or so. I am not exaggerating. When I burn toast, the whole mountain knows it.

Our wood stove and small pond were both items we were lectured about. While our garage could have looked like a scene from a horror film and they'd never know. They didn't even care.

The system... I just couldn't work with it. I wish I had it in me to grovel happily for the chance to give a child in need a safe and loving home. I wanted to jump through their hoops and pass the exam. I know all the reasons why I SHOULD feel compassion toward drug addicts who abuse their children repeatedly. But, I don't feel it and I never will.

We completed the process of being certified to foster children. After getting through all of that we were still excited at the possibility of providing a safe home to a child in need. It just turned into another dead end. I see these experiences we had as a sign. We were putting our whole selves into the process and the only thing we were getting back was grief. Every interaction turned into its own little disaster.

Was this the weak way out? Did I "give up?" Some may say that. It felt more like giving in. I cried "uncle" because I could see this system was too big, too much for lil' ol' me to create any positive change. I see each battle lost as a sign that I am not in fact on the right path.

The same part of me that still has hope for "someday" is even a little thankful that "someday" hasn't arrived just yet. Kind of like how I don't want Christmas to come because then it will be over. It's a missing piece; a mystery left yet to be discovered. Even after 12 years of failure I can't stop thinking that my day might still be coming.


Listen to me... I just can't help it. I will never stop putting myself between the bullet and the target.