Babble is partnering with FosterMore to help readers better understand and navigate life as a foster parent. This month brings an inspiring story written by Nancy Nyman and Heather McNama, who share some of the challenges they’ve faced.
We’ve been foster parents for so long that the foster world and all that comes with it — paperwork, biological family visits, social worker meetings, and helping kids through trauma — has become a regular part of our life.
We got certified in 2010 and have had a total of nine kids in our care since then. Currently, we have two: a 7-year-old named Xavier who loves school, has a ton of friends, and dreams of being an opera-singing police detective, and Eli, a precocious 2-year-old who’s obsessed with dump trucks, the zoo, and Good Night, Moon.
When we first entered the foster care system, we had certain expectations — that the kids who came to us would need both love and structure (they do!), that our world would be a little more complicated (it is!), and that we would become part of a growing movement of people trying to break the cycle of abuse and neglect that’s so rampant in our society (the movement is real!).
What we didn’t expect was just how little foster kids are thought of when our public leaders are making policies.
For instance, we didn’t realize that our local parks and recreation agencies don’t necessarily think about foster kids when it comes to summer camps, day camps, and sports programs such as Little League, soccer, and Pee Wee football. We also had no idea that schools, often with the best of intentions, frequently lower their educational and behavioral standards for foster kids, excusing away poor performance because they “feel sorry” for the kids.
But most of all, we didn’t expect what our own reactions to these things would be — that this lack of forethought and accountability would ignite in us a fierce warrior mentality; one that could be easily summoned at the mere suspicion of inequity.
We’re both nice people by nature — too nice, perhaps. Fighting for things we believe in doesn’t come naturally to either of us, because we don’t like to hurt feelings and we don’t like to rock the boat.
Or so we thought.
Head over to Babble.com to read the full story! Image courtesy of Babble & Nancy Nyman and Heather McNama.