Without going into the long version of the story, I have been a therapeutic foster parent before, and I am in the training to start again, after a 2 year break. I know pretty much what I am getting myself into. And I am having serious second thoughts.
The reason I felt ready to try again is that my life has reached a pretty calm, pleasant plateau. Bio-Dumplings are low-maintenance teens, my elderly Mom is well settled in a great facility only a few blocks away, and my job is flexible and supportive of this plan. Money wise, I am right on the edge, and the payment for high needs kids is enough to make the difference. No, of course I wouldn't do it just "for the money". But I definitely need to do something that will bring in a little income. Parenting high needs kids is what I do exceptionally well, and I know there are some kids out there for whom I could make a big difference. I feel it is only right that I share this ability once or twice more in my life. I have considered all the home-business/part-time job options, and this is the only one I can fully put my heart into.
But... Isn't there always a but?
I am tired when I get home from work in the evening. My supervisor has already OK'd cutting back my hours a bit if I want to. But that would give me more time for the child, not really more "me time". I love that I can now come home, take my shoes off, have a glass of wine, and really be off-duty in the evening. I would surely be giving that up. I would definitely have to cut back on some of my community projects - I serve on several citizen advisory councils in the field of children's mental health. I now have the freedom to go to the state capital for a couple days next week to attend a conference and speak to our legislators on the subject. That sort of trip would be out of the question with a child who could not be left home. Or possibly complex respite arrangements could be made, but I would not feel as confident to be out of town.
I really have no drama in my life today. Adding a teen girl (my preference) would certainly change that! The atmosphere in our home these days is generally calm and tranquil. I feel guilty disrupting that, for my kids as well as myself (although the bios are on board with this whole plan). I hesitate to go back to the "living in a fishbowl" feeling of constant scrutiny that comes with being a foster parent. I left the world of fostering on pretty bad terms, and anticipate a fairly humiliating experience of explaining that period of my life. If they will even certify me again - I think so, but it isn't a sure thing. And I have some raw wounds from the whole episode.
I am pretty sure all these hesitations will disappear when there is a real life child in my doorway. My family and I have lots of love and understanding to give to a child, as well as a safe, secure home to share. At the end of my life, I would be happier to say, "I tried", even if I fail, than to wonder what would have happened if I hadn't been so scared. The fear (read "terror") is real, but I think I have just talked myself back into continuing on the path to adding more children to my life.
Thanks for giving me the place to talk through these feelings. I would welcome comments and support from anyone with similar experience of hesitating before jumping off this particular cliff. Or a similar one...