I grew up in a comfortable financially stable home. My parents took care of all of my needs and I don’t remember being aware of the foster care world until I was in highschool or college. I was never on food stamps or had government assistance. That was just not my world. Now that I’m an adult, I am far more thankful for my childhood than I ever was as a child.
In September of 2012, my husband and I became foster parents. Although we opened our home with plans of fostering school aged children, God has a funny sense of humor. The first call we recieved was for a 1 day old baby…so, we prayed about it, called my friend to see if she could take care of the baby while we were teaching during the day, and then said yes!
Most people have 9 months to prepare for a newborn baby. We had 24 hours. Our friends rallied around us and by the end of the next day, we had clothing, a crib, diapers, wipes, and a baby room set up. Then began the process of taking care of the baby.
All foster children qualify for WIC. Before being a foster parent, I had never dealt with WIC. So, after CPS brought us the baby, they told us we needed to get a WIC appointment set up so that we could get formula for the baby. Fortunately, the hospital sent some formula with the baby so we were set for a couple of days, but then the baby would need to eat again! And formula is expensive!
So, I set up an appointment at the WIC office, took the tiny newborn baby with me and waited in that big waiting room. I answered all the questions, filled out all the paperwork, and was instructed on how to use my new WIC card. I was also told which things would qualify for WIC and how many canisters of formula we would be able to purchase a month. I left that office thinking I was all set! I was ready to go get “my” baby some formula.
The next day after work, I set off on my adventure to use WIC. The first place I went was Albertsons on State Line. I got my formula, went to the register and tried to pay with my WIC card. But it didn’t work. The cashier informed me that since I had Texas WIC, I would have to go to a Texas store to get the formula. Dad gum it!
So, I figured I would just go right across the state line to Walgreens to get the formula. I got all the formula, took it to the register and tried to pay with my WIC card. That’s when I learned that only certain stores allow you to pay with WIC. Argh! I was starting to get frustrated…I was also a little sleep deprived from getting up during the night to feed the baby and then teaching all day…I didn’t have the 6 weeks of maternity leave…
Next, I tried the Texas side Wal-Mart. I double checked to make sure that I had gotten the correct type of formula, took it to the register and tried to pay with my WIC card. But IT DIDN’T WORK! Their WIC machines were down! At this point, I was super frustrated and becoming exhausted. I needed to go pick the baby up from my friend who watched him while I was working, but also I NEEDED TO FEED “MY” BABY!
I was close to my friend’s house, so I went to pick up the baby. When I saw her, my emotions bubbled up and tears spilled over my cheeks. I was tired, I was frustrated, and I just wanted to get formula for “my” baby! My friend lovingly hugged me, calmed me down, told me it would be ok, and with that vote of confidence, I left.
I took the baby with me to the next stop, Albertsons on 7th street. I got my formula, went to the register and IT WORKED!! I felt a huge relief!
So, why do I tell you all this story? To give you some perspective of what the biological families frequently go through on a daily basis. Except that they frequently don’t have a supportive friend to watch their baby and then give them a confidence boost. They frequently don’t have transportation so they are trying to maneuver this mess on public transportation…with a tiny baby...sometimes with multiple kids! They have just birthed the child, so not only are they sleep deprived, but also they are dealing with their crazy hormones trying to regulate again. They are frequently on a very limited income so they don’t have the option of paying for the formula…if they can’t get their formula through WIC, they don’t have a way to feed their baby…and not everyone is able to breastfeed. My heart breaks for them.
When we think about foster care, we are usually very quick to judge the birth parents. We think “how could someone ever harm a child?” “how could someone be stupid enough to feed their baby watered down formula?” “how could someone ever do drugs and not care for their child?” “how could someone ever hit their child?” and many other things. These are all VALID questions!
Please don’t hear me excusing their behavior. It is NEVER ok to harm a child. But please hear me asking you to share in my empathy. Sometimes abuse stems from exhaustion, crazy hormones, and frustration with not being able to feed your children in an easy way. Sometimes abuse stems from not having anyone in your corner to give you a hug and vote of confidence. Sometimes people turn to drugs as a way to escape all of the hardships they are facing in life and then the drugs take over their lives. Sometimes people do “stupid” things like give their babies watered down formula because they are trying to make it last longer and no one has ever taught them how to care for a baby.
So, today, I urge you to be empathetic and forgiving. Love others with God’s love and leave the judgement to God.
1You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. 2And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. 3Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things? 4Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
-Romans 2:1-4 NLT