This Is Us: Episode 2 Recap – Jumping into the Foster Care World
As many of you saw last week, This Is Us took the official leap into the foster care world when Randall and Beth welcomed into their home a 12 year old girl, Deja. The family didn’t receive any information about Deja aside from the last minute phone call to inform them of Deja’s arrival. While we can appreciate the drama from our couches it allows us to see how easily misconceptions form. Most foster care agencies do not handle a placement in the way that was illustrated on the show. We have never called one of our families on our way over with a child! It is important to know that you are in the driver’s seat in determining what placement is right for you and your family. While the time to make that decision can be as short as a few hours, it is still your decision to make.
When you decide that a child or sibling set is the right fit for you, then the placement can happen very quickly. Most agencies will come to your home with the child and help get them settled in. This Is Us did a wonderful job of trying to reflect how scary it must be for children to enter into an unknown home filled with strangers. How the words we speak can be fuzzy and unheard. Even what they are seeing can seem blurry to them. The social worker leaves with these words: “That is correct she is most definitely not ok. She just got yanked out of her family and plopped down with a bunch of strangers. I would tell you the first night is the hardest part but I would be lying. Be patient, zero expectations and don’t try to predict how a single day will turn out.”
Every one of these lines is correct. A child entering into your home through foster care is definitely NOT ok. They are traumatized by being removed from their home as well as the experiences that lead to that point. And if that’s not difficult enough, they now have to be placed into a home of complete strangers. And unfortunately yes, many times the first night isn’t the hardest. There is a honeymoon period that exists for many children in care, and they will look at the first few nights as a sleepover. Once it sets in that this isn’t a short term stay the days and nights become more challenging for them and for you.
As one of our own foster care parents noted, PATIENCE is the #1 trait needed for successful foster parents. Combine patience with zero expectations and an understanding that every day will be different is a great platform of success for foster parents. In a short time, there are successes (Deja going into the girls’ room to chat and sleep with them) and defeats (Deja struggling with the knowledge that she is not going back home anytime soon). And that is how foster care goes, with its ups and downs, achievements and challenges.
When Randall said, “I think this finally might be the thing that’s as hard as everyone says it is,” he’s right. Foster parenting is as hard and everyone says it is. But boy is it also worth it.
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty. I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”