Tuesday, May 5, 2020

A very fine line

When you're a foster parent, one of the easiest things to start believing is that you're "better." A better parent, a better provider. Better at meeting a child's needs. Better at communicating and keeping track of schedules. An overall better citizen of the world.

And of course it must be true, right? Because why would anyone take a child away from his parents and give him to you if you weren't "better?"

Foster parents and bio parents don't typically have much interaction. Visits with the child and other meetings are often set up specifically to avoid interaction, in fact, and this is a good policy most of the time. The current pandemic, however, has replaced in-person child visits with virtual visits and brought foster parents like me face-to-face with the people I'm tempted to believe I'm just so much better than.

Our current foster placement is only a few months old. He can't talk or hold a phone, much less facilitate a Skype call. So when he "visits" with his parents, I am there. When they talk to him and read him books and tell him how big he's getting, I am there. Not on the screen, but behind the camera, holding the tablet up so he can see and listening to his parents say they miss him so much. They want to hold him so much. They love him so much.

As I've helped my foster kiddo participate in these "visits" twice a week every week, I've grown increasingly uneasy. Those people on the other end of the call--whose faces fill the screen with smiles for their son--well, they're so...human. Just like me. Not monsters. Not psychopaths. Not imposters.

Parents. Like me.

Over the last few weeks, God has shown me that the line between where I sit behind the camera with custody of a child not my own and where others sit on a Skype screen wishing they could hold their son again is a fine line. A very fine line. And if not for the grace of God it could've been me on the other side. Could've been me laying awake at night wondering how many days it will be until I see my child again.

I can hear you thinking it: The state didn't take their son away for no reason. They must've done something bad. Something irresponsible.

You're right. They did. But their poor choices did not take away their humanity and make them somehow less than me. Just as there's a fine line between my side of the camera and theirs, there's also a fine line between thinking I've made better choices than them and thinking I am better.

If there's one thing the last couple months has proven, it's that things can change really fast. Life can be upended. People can suddenly find themselves in situations they never would've thought possible. When I hold this sweet little foster kiddo in my lap, I think about the fine line between me and his parents. The fine line between any of us and a whole different life. And I'm thankful to be where I am. In a better place than some...yes. But not better.


  1. Wow. This is so interesting. I love when our perceptions are changed by simply looking at how another views the scene. It must be so sad, though, to have to watch the children talk to their parents and miss them.

    MB: keturahskorner.blogspot.com
    PB: thegirlwhodoesntexist.com

    1. Yes, it's very sad. It makes me want to hug my kids, that's for sure. I appreciate when perceptions are changed too, I think it's important to look at the world through the eyes of other people whenever possible.