I see you, foster mom. I saw you today in Wal-Mart. I knew it was you. Not because you were accompanied by three children who were of a different race than you. No, it was because you were buying underwear, toothbrushes, clothing and pillows; everything that your own child would have accumulated already. Because you were gathering school supplies in the middle of the year. Because you were asking the oldest if he prefers apples or oranges in his lunch and if the baby might like a stuffed bear. Because the middle one just asked to go home.
I see you, foster mom. I think about you at dinner time. I wonder if your meal is spent in uncomfortable silence or if you make attempts at lighthearted conversation. Maybe you take a picture of the kids to share with your mother but are sure to tell her she can’t share it with anyone else as foster children have a right to privacy. The middle one starts to cry silently and then asks about his mother. While you comfort him, your own children pull out some art supplies and ask the oldest if he would like to make a card for his parents, who he has a visit scheduled with next week.
I see you, foster mom. I think about you when it gets close to bedtime. You awkwardly tell your foster children goodnight, not sure if they would want you to hug them. You keep a light on in the hall outside the spare bedroom that now sleeps two young boys you don’t know. Your foster baby is inconsolable tonight but you don’t know how to make it right. Maybe she likes to be rocked. Maybe her stomach is upset. Maybe she just misses her mom. At any rate I know you will stay up all night figuring it out because that’s what you do. You won’t give up. Because that’s not how this works. This is what you do. They are safe tonight. I see you. Thank you.