We adopted three out of our four children. Every day we’re faced with new challenges. Every day our adopted children learn that they are unique in ways they wish they weren’t. Whether it’s doing a project about your family timeline for school or filling out medical history at the doctor’s office, there are constant reminders for three of our children that there are gaps in their lives that may never be filled.
Preserving Memories in Foster Care
Fortunately, one of our adopted children had foster families who helped ease some of his struggles. My son was with this loving foster family for the better part of a year. They helped him through a really tough part of his journey. And for that, I am forever grateful.
He came to our home with a binder carefully put together of every important medical record and adorned with birthday cards in the sleeves. They provided him with a photo album documenting every leg of his journey, every single joyous moment in their home. In the album, they provided a letter telling our son how much he was loved and providing their address and phone number in case he ever wanted to reach them.
We feel so blessed that our youngest was able to experience such love and stability before he came to us. It shows in his empathy for others and his constant need for love and affection.
Getting By in Foster Care
Unfortunately, we’ve also experienced both ends of the spectrum. Our other two children who experienced foster care were not so lucky. There were no photos of their time with their foster families. No albums that were lovingly made. Heck, they didn’t even have shoes that fit.
One of our children did come with a binder of medical history while in foster care. While I appreciate it, I wish they would have taken some time to collect some photos as well.
Fostering is not for the faint of heart, and I understand that. Not only are you in charge of children, but you are also in charge of keeping the home in order for inspections. I just ask that foster families consider the children and their future. Our kids have so many questions about their past and our older one tells us so many stories that we wish we had pictures of.
I’ve heard that some foster families do not like to keep an album of the children in their care because they feel the children would not want to remember this part of their life. It’s important to take the time to consider the different journeys these children may take after they leave foster care. If they were infants or toddlers while in your home, you are experiencing their fundamental development. They would definitely want to remember that!
One of our children regularly looks at his brother’s baby album. Having been the oldest in foster care, I know she wishes that she had more memories. We only had a baby photo from a grainy photo of an ID card our caseworker had sent us. I was adamant that she was going to have a baby photo in her school timeline. I blew that sucker up and tried to reduce the grain, and it made its way to my child’s timeline! It was proudly displayed in the bedroom above her bed for months.
My son had no idea what the letters in his photo album meant when I first read them to him. However, now that he’s grown older, he asks to see his photo album of his foster family because that’s literally the only thing he has from life before us. This last time he asked to see the album and asked if we could reach out to his foster family. His main concern was checking to see if the dog in the picture was still alive.
I’ve kept in contact with the foster family since my son entered our home four years ago. If they love my son enough to send him off with so many beautiful memories, then they deserve to be a part of his new memories. They were thrilled that he asked to reach out to them, and we scheduled a Zoom visit.
During our call, we talked about so much, and they were so excited to learn about our son’s new interests and hobbies. Unfortunately, the dog had passed, but my son learned so much about the pictures in his album. They let me know that they never change their phone number in case any of their former foster children reach out to them. The foster mother told me she keeps a file on each child who enters their home in case any of them have any questions in the future. That was the purest and loveliest thing I had ever heard!
Be the Change
I wish my two other children had more physical pieces from their past to hold on to. I wish I could give them what other foster families couldn’t, but unfortunately, we can’t go back in time. We appreciate that they were kept safe during that time and that’s all I can ask for.
What we can do now is look to the future, advocate for our children, and be a part of the change. My husband and I have vowed to continue to foster AFTER the kids get to high school level, God willing. We’ve seen the impact good foster families have on our children. Since we have seen the impact, we know that we could never let any child leave our home without a TON of love and even more photos and memories!
I also encourage anyone who has ever considered the idea of fostering to move forward and do it! If you truly want to help these children feel some sense of normalcy and love throughout their journey, they need people like you! Our local Child Protective Services has classes regularly scheduled and our community is ALWAYS in need of foster families.
Originally published March 2022.
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