What you might ask? HOUSEPARENTING!! I work in a long term residential foster care facility. The same one I have worked in for the last 9 years, in the same cottage for over 6 years and I am unable to describe my pain at the moment.
I have spent the better part of this weekend packing up two boys that I have raised since the day I moved into this cottage, and I have been sobbing or flat out bawling the whole time. They are going to live with their birth mother when they get back from camp on Wednesday. I have grown to love these boys more than I can describe, and I never thought it would be this hard to see them go. Of course until 9 months ago, nobody thought they would ever leave before they graduated from high school or college.
One of the boys is now 8 years old, and can only remember us as parents. He has not lived with his birth mom since he was a toddler. What makes it even harder, is the fact that I am not sure they are going to a better situation. They will go from having virtually all their needs met to a situation where daily life will be a struggle. They will go from a situation where education, spiritual and moral training, hygiene, was important and taught, to a situation where it’s not. It will be an absolute culture shock to both because it is not a lifestyle they can remember living in, and the weekend visits that have taken place once a month for the last 6 months can no way portray what is in store for them.
There are other kids here that I love and I know the pain of this week will lesson and life will go on, though I know it will never go away. I know because I am still saddened every time I think of Madison, the first stealer of my heart. I still get choked up when I start thinking about her and have often cried.
I am sure it looks awful funny for someone to see a big manly guy like me in tears, and I must say it is hard to see the screen through the blur, but it really hurts and I can’t help it.
It really SUCKS. In order to care for these kids they way you should, you have to LOVE them, and when you love them, it is only a matter of time until you are hurt. The question is: How many times can you take the pain?
The problem is you cannot stay detached. If you do you will suck as a houseparent. You have to build relationships, you have to nurture, you have to love, even big pain in the butt teenagers that don’t want to be there, and are juvenile delinquents (I know because I cared for them before too). The kids will know how much you care, and your effectiveness will be a direct reflection.
As for me. If you pray, please pray for me, my wife and all the kids in our cottage because we know life has to go on. And also for these boys – that everything will be alright.