Ann says the experience has been as rewarding for her children as it’s been for her and her husband. She says her children have shared in the joy of welcoming a new baby into the family and the responsibilities that come with caring for this new life. They also share in the heartache of having to let them go. She says the life lessons are unmatched by any other experience they’ll have.
Here’s Ann McKitrick with her essay for KUHF’s This I Believe.
“I remember like it was yesterday. My cell phone rang. My husband said, “There’s a baby boy who needs to be placed tonight, do you want to take him?” We had obtained our license to be a foster family the week before. After a short conversation we agreed to take him. That evening, he arrived. He had a tiny cast on his leg…only one of the three twist fractures needed to be set. Nineteen of his ribs were broken. He was six weeks old. When all the paperwork was signed and questions answered, the case workers left and we were on our own. I took the first shift, gave him a bottle and held him as he scream-cried for over an hour. I wondered to myself, “What in the world have I gotten myself into?”
He healed quickly and became a strong, happy baby who rolled over, sat up and walked early in his first year. He became part of our family, although at first glance it was obvious he wasn’t ours. Our teenagers learned how to change diapers, make bottles, how to make him laugh and how good it feels to snuggle with a baby who loves you. Most importantly they learned to love across racial and cultural barriers. He was with our family for fourteen months. Several years later I still tear up at the mention of his name.
When we introduce our foster babies, most people say “I don’t think I could do that, I’d get too attached and never be able to let them go.” It’s true. When you foster, you feel that way. You get attached. You hurt for their situation. You rise up in anger against the person who hurt them. You take them to the doctor. You buy cute clothes and toys for them. You take them for family visits and awkwardly share them for an hour, feeling sadness for parents who are missing out on their child’s milestones. Then, after months or a year, suddenly the child is gone. You grieve, miss them, wonder about them and in our experience never hear from the placement family. You rest up and you do it again.
I believe fostering has taught me to love firmly but hold loosely. I believe we have an obligation to step outside ourselves and do something to help children who are hurting.
This I believe.”