Friday, September 14, 2018


We took a year off from foster care when our daughter was a senior in high school, and always said we would do the same for our son. We want to be present for the senior year, attend all of the performances and go visit colleges, and just basically be here. Fully here.

We told the case worker back in the late Spring that was our intention, and she was on board. The court schedule delayed the transition a little while, since we didn’t want to move them before a long-term decision was made about their placement plan. But other than that delay of a few weeks, we have known all along that this transition was coming.

And yet …

Knowing that a foster placement is leaving is one thing; grieving the transition is quite another.

It is especially difficult this time, it seems. These two have worn us down. We are depleted. The energy it has consumed to care for these two boys for these nine months has left us very little with which to focus on anything else. At least, not very well.

The level of chaos and disruption that their past trauma has brought into our home is hard to describe. And their past trauma follows them everywhere, bringing the chaos and the disruption along the way. It’s a particularly nasty kind of frustrating; just when we start to think there are signs of progress, like they might be “figuring it out,” things shatter, and come crashing down.

Their subconscious sabotage of all things functional is maddening. Like we are living an alternate reality. And it’s exhausting.

We are depleted.

So this one doesn’t feel at all like a foster parent “win” for us. Twelve years and twenty kids, and we have enough experience to have seen pretty much everything, and there have most definitely been “wins.” But right now, not so much. Words like defeat, failure, surrender … these seem more fitting.

The boys’ behavior is so erratic, so chaotic, that it is impossible to predict what will happen now. There may be a “honeymoon” for the new foster family, during which things seem to be on track. And I hope and pray that it stays that way and they find a forever family there.

And it is just as likely that the one will disappear into the deep sorrow that defines his identity and the other will lash out from the uncontrollable rage that lurks in his heart, and it will all come crashing down. Again.

This morning I knelt down and looked into the three year old’s eyes. I said, “We are gonna have a good day today, right?”

His sweet and sincere “Yes Daddy” will linger in my memory.

Then we did three deep breaths, like we do every morning, and he went into the room to greet his teachers.

And now it’s not even that I don’t know what to feel, it’s more like I just … don’t. Like the emotions are so conflicted that they’re cancelling each other out. And we’re just left void. Blank.



Nancy Culver said...

Andy, I can't two are amazing! Having had foster stars in my Kindergarten classroom, I know a teenie tiny part of what you experience. Just remember you and all of your stars are in our prayers.

Unknown said...

Andy, you and your family have been there for so many.
This is an overwhelming for all and I believe that God has a plan and these boys are on their way in his plan.
Doesn't mean that you have failed it just means it's time for them to head on their journey.
I may not be saying this very well,but it is what is on my heart after reading your post.
Praying for your family

Seamhead said...

You guys are awesome. We'll be praying for all you!

Anonymous said...

Dear Andy and Erin,
I wish I had words of comfort for you on this matte but I don't . But the one thing I know is you all are not failures.The deep hurts these children have are so deep that it is like chiseling marble. I've never fostered but I care fd for fosters and other children who were still in the throws of their awful situations . 8 hours a day was all I had them but I tried to give them love. YOu have had them 24 hours and I know you have given them love. I always pray for your "children when they leave you" but I also hold onto hope that our Lord gives us even in the most unlikely situations.

Susan Smith said...

Unconditional love does not end and often leaves us aching. You two will love unconditionally even when they are absent. Trust the power of unconditional love, God does. Love to you two.

Pam Johnston said...

Andy and Erin, I have the greatest admiration for foster parents. I have volunteered as a CASA for eight years, and have only seen the love and sacrifice that prompts families to "take in" foster children. I am supposed to be an advocate for the children, but I find myself advocating for the caregivers as well. So often, all I can do in a difficult situation is to pray for the best outcome. Hang in there, and, yes, take that break! It is important for your family.