Andrew and I were asked to speak to a group of new recruits at our agency this weekend . You know, break in the fresh foster parent meat. We joined the group at the end of their last MAPP training class to share a little bit of our story, discuss some of the challenges (especially the unexpected ones!) of foster parenting and to give the group some insight into therapeutic foster care which is pretty foreign to most folks.
We talked a lot, we always do, about many things. But I didn’t really talk about something that has been, particularly at this moment in our journey, very difficult for me – the ‘starting in the middle’-ness of fostering. I feel as though I have picked up a great novel, perhaps War and Peace, only to begin reading on page 347 of 1498 (or whatever it is).
I have been dumped into the drama well past the starting point. In addition to the sense of disorientation that comes from knowing that there is a whole lot that I do not know and may well never know, there is a sense of helplessness that comes from knowing that because I missed the beginning, I am going to be clueless, and make a whole lot of stupid assumptions and corresponding missteps from now until this fine story ends. Of course, I understand that all parents make mistakes – that is just a human thing to do.
But it feels different. The fear of these future errors, looming somewhere in the distance, coupled with my very complicated feelings about Blitzen’s family of origin, have created a great and genuine sadness in me. To have been there at the beginning, not only to know, to learn, and to understand but also to have witnessed the many early, wonderful moments of Blitzen-ness, what a magnificent gift that would have been. But alas, I am here on page 399, slowly working my way through, trying to pick up on the context clues and figure it out as I go along.