Posts Tagged ‘why we do it’

Warning: spoiler alerts ahead.

Our family loves to read Elephant and Piggie.   I dryly read the part of Gerald the Elephant while Blitzen reads Piggie the Piggie with exuberant expression.

Our most-read title is “We Are In a Book.”  Our heroes romp playfully together until Piggie mentions that the book will end on Page 57.

“ENDS!?!” screams Elephant.  “The book ends?!”

“Yes,” says Piggie.  “All books end.”

We read those pages again and again, Piggie/Blitzen wisely helping her friend Elephant confront his existential dread.


Our latest read has been the story of Marley, a rambunctious, joyful 100-pound dog who lived life in a big way.  Before we started, Carrie and I sat down and talked to Blitzen about how the story would end.  After a few days of reading, we reminded her of the sad ending ahead and asked if she wanted to keep reading.  She responded “Yes!   I can’t stop now.  I have to keep reading about Marley!”

We read about the time Marley’s owner rode a toboggan down the snowy hill behind his house. Naturally, Marley jumped on and the two sped down, hanging onto each other, out of control, screaming, laughing and trying to steer clear of trees before landing in the river.   Blitzen loved every page of Marley’s misadventures.

We finished the book last night and the three of us sobbed together in bed, talking about endings.  We talked about our dog Stan and scattering his ashes under a tree in Central Park.

Blitzen drifted to sleep, then woke up.  “Marley was as wild as the wind,” she announced.  “I hope my dog is wild as the wind too.”


There will be many more Blitzen-tagged posts on Carrie’s brilliant blog.  We’re still inventing our family, still learning from one another, still in the middle of our story.   But all books end.   Foster families, like Blitzen’s beach sculptures, are monuments to uncertainty and impermanence.

Carrie and I have made a choice to live and parent like page 57 is a long way away.   When you speed downhill with someone wild as the wind you hang to each other and savor the ride.

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When we started this blog, Andrew and I, I think we mostly wanted to force ourselves to produce a record of what we expected would be an unusual, amazing, heartbreaking, confusing, joyful journey.  And it has been those things.  It has been a little bit of an electronic lifebook of the past year plus, a public journal of our attempt to parent/love/engage/give to a creative, bright, sad, angry little girl.

For me, the blogging has been way more.  It has been something that I have done for myself in a way that I did not anticipate.

I really enjoy writing – who knew?  It is cathartic and liberating and forces me to be mindful and experience this experience now, as it is happening.

It has also built a community of support.  When I feel tired or like I am not a good parent or think to myself, why on earth did I sign up to do this exhausting, maddening job? Somebody always hears me and responds in a way that makes me take a deep breath and reminds me that I can do this.  That I am doing it and I am doing it pretty darn well, actually, so I should let go a little bit and accept and relax.  And often the responder is a total stranger which is oddly validating because, wow, someone that doesn’t even know and love me, is taking time to send me good internet vibes.  How thoughtful, how kind, how helpful it is to hear from you, internet peeps.  And I also feel, as corny as it sounds, that creates an atmosphere of love for Blitzen.  She doesn’t know about it but I do — a kind of shockingly large number of geographically diverse people are rooting for her and interested in her story.

All this to say, thanks for talking me into blogging, Andrew.  It has totally been worth it.

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You remember Fosterhood, our favorite fostering blog.

People ask her why she fosters, and doesn’t she get attached to the child?

“Yes.  You’re supposed to.  I think that’s why they’re looking for human beings to foster and not robots”.

The real question they’re asking though is “Isn’t it so incredibly painful when the children are reunited with their parents that you want to go walk out in front of a bus?” and I get the question, I really do, but not so much.  Because doing nothing makes me feel like walking out in front of a bus.  Maybe it was all of those damn Sally Struthers commercials growing-up.

Doing something is actually pretty fun most of the time.  Like lying awake typing this post because starting at 3:02am that 22 month-old in my bedroom started singing a disturbing mashup of “Baa-Baa Black Sheep” and “Poker Face”.   And she’s on like the 29th verse already and for all I know she thinks there are 43 more.

I can’t imagine feeling any more alive and happy.


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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.

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