So why do we do it?
What good is it?
Does it teach you anything?
Like determination? Invention? Improvisation? Foresight? Hindsight? Love? Art? Music? Religion?
— Terry and Renny Russell, On the Loose
Judging by the reactions we get when we mention our impending FosterWee, it’s surprising for white urban professionals to choose fostering over brewing up their own children.
Human motivation is a complicated thing. Carrie gave her first non-answer to the “Why?” question here. I suspect this blog will document our stumbling non-answers to that question, the sum of which will be our answer. Can’t wait to read it.
There are lots of reasons that fostering might work for us:
1) Carrie and I are witty, charming and have mad skills with children.
2) We have very few other responsibilities in our lives right now. We have no ailing parents, we’re not on the verge of any crucial medical breakthroughs. We don’t even have any pets.
3) We have time and money. (For years, Carrie’s answer to when would we have children was, “Maybe when we’re sick of having time and money.” We haven’t gotten sick of it yet, but…)
4) We really like the young neices, nephews and friends’ children in our lives.
5) We’re goofily idealistic, in the face of all evidence
6) We like adventures. We’re happy to hop on a bus in China and see where it takes us.
7) We like working on projects together. From planning our wedding to weeding our community garden.
9) We’re willing to get messy and be engaged in our community.
8) We have a hard-core, bad-ass, ready-for-anything community of friends and family around us. Carrie and I lived together for seven years before we got married. When we did get married, we had a team in place — friends to officiate the ceremony, play the music, cook the food, make Carrie’s dress. Today, we have a village — folks who will cook for the wee, folks who will babysit folks who will create art with Blitzen, folks who will read to him, folks who will play sports with her. Surrounding an NYC child with the role models we’re surrounded by can’t be anything but a good thing.
Peter Singer might suggest that given all this, we have an ethical obligation to help take care of a kid and family in our community. I’m not sure I buy that. The ethics of race, privilege and power around foster care and child welfare are murky. More than that, we all have to find our own ways of unleashing our talents on this unsuspecting world.
What I really think is that being a foster parent with my partner Carrie and our far-flung-friends will be rewarding and fun. I think I’ll learn a lot about myself and the world around me. I think I’ll fall asleep every night tired and satisfied.