The other night I was watching a television program with a theme of foster parents and children. Predictably, the plot centered around the foster parents abusing the children entrusted to their care.
It hurt my heart.
Twenty-three years ago, my husband and I applied with the county to become foster parents. We took classes, underwent a background check, and waited. During our training, we met other foster parents, some already certified and some, like us, going through the process.
These parents came in all shapes and sizes, social and financial backgrounds, faiths and races. Some wanted to foster teenagers; others wanted elementary school aged children; and still others asked to care for disabled children. What they had in common was a fervent desire to give a needy child a familyand love.
No one signed up with the intent of making money. (To refute that claim, I once figured the hourly rate. It came to less than fifty cents per hour.)
Eight months after we had applied, I received the call. Could we take an infant girl? I answered yes. Giddy with delight, I called my husband who came home from work. Our other four children gathered around as a policewoman delivered this small spirit into our family.
It was love at first sight. Ann was tiny, dark haired, and dark eyed,, a contrast to our blond, blue-eyed family. She looked into my eyes, and I knew she belonged with our family. The children fell in love with her as well. Our middle son, Steven, said, "Mom, I can't imagine our family without Ann."
When Ann became available for adoption, we rejoiced and did what was necessary to make that happen. Two and a half years after she was placed with us, the adoption was final. My feelings for Ann, first as a foster parent, then as her mother, hadn't changed. How could they? I had loved her from the beginning.
So, for today, I am grateful for foster parents and the love they share.