CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - This week's segment is one that is very humbling to put on display for viewers to watch. Partly because I enjoy being the one behind the scenes, making sure everything is organized and prepared because that's my nature. This week you will actually see me in front of the camera for the first time sharing part of my story. The interview put me out of my comfort zone for many reasons. Not just because of the microphones, lights and makeup, but because I was asked to share the impact that foster care has had on my life. My family’s story includes not just happy memories of fostering energetic and sweet children but also painful goodbyes of children who have left our home over the last 8 years. I sit in my living room and see the couch where all my boys snuggled with popcorn with foster placements and made beautiful memories. Then I walk down the hallway and see empty beds where children who once called me mom once slept. In order to share the impact fostering has had on my life I knew the story would force me to be vulnerable and honest for viewers to see.
Heather and I were given the unique opportunity to share aspects of our stories in this messy but beautiful picture we call foster care. Some parts of our stories are bright, beautiful and shining with hope, success and an outcome we prayed for. Sometimes the outcome we hoped for was reunification with their birth families that we knew would allow generational healing. At times the beauty was when our home was a temporary place until they were to be placed with an adoptive family that was best for them. Heather’s picture illuminated what many hope for on this journey when their family adopted three children from foster care.
Some parts of our story have messy edges and smudged dark paint displaying our journey doesn’t always make sense or even end up how we wanted the picture to look. Other parts of our story are bold and more breathtaking than we could have imagined.
That picture we hoped to paint of our experience as foster parents is motherhood in its most vulnerable and raw state, imperfect.
Being a mother in any capacity brings challenges and insecurities laced in moments of connection and deep relationship. As foster mothers, we were taught that when any child entered our home that we were to love without reservations and to give our heart fully, because that is what these children from hard places deserve. We want to encourage others to see the beauty in loving deeply like that without simplifying the difficulty of this specific journey when fostering.
Between the two of us we have welcomed over 20 children into our homes. These children brought us to our knees as we listened to their story, saw their wounds and helped them navigate the process towards healing. They each brought us smiles as we saw them grow and learn and meet milestones and find joy despite the losses they experienced. As mothers we tucked them in at night, took them to therapy appointments, held them when they were hurting, cheered for them at games and poured everything we had into them. We lived like they would stay forever but knew that not everyone of them would stay. We invested in them fully for as long as we had. In those more than 20 children a majority of them left our homes as our families said painful goodbyes and wondered why that child wasn’t the one to stay.
We understand the limitations as a foster mom in our ability to control the outcome. However, we embrace that when we say yes to fostering we acknowledge the lack of control as we set out to paint a picture of our journey as a mother. Both of our pictures are filled with imperfect smudges, dark spots and unexpected outcomes. But in this interview as we reflect on the journey thus far we both acknowledge this picture of foster care is beautiful. It is beautiful not just for the children who get a chance at experience a safe, loving family, but for us as mothers. We take this journey one day at a time, and try our best to embrace every aspect of the picture and how those parts of the painting have shaped our families for the better. Our journey of fostering teaches us, our spouses and our children to embrace the imperfection and love deeply without reservation in hopes of creating something beautiful for the world to behold. After all, isn’t that what motherhood is all about?