Side "Fostering" ProjectThere are many "foster" parents out there that don't even know that's what they are. My definition of a foster parent is an adult who takes a provisional fathering or mothering role in the life of a child who is not their own by relation or adoption. Lots of people fit that description.
Kids who aren't typical foster kids need people like that, and to a child they are very much foster parents. The more of them a kid has the better. I had a couple of scouting leaders when I was growing up, as well as a couple of church youth leaders, that were "foster" parents of mine, by that definition.
And I've discovered that there are a few kids around here that need that sort of thing...particularly father figures. For whatever reason, decent men seem in shorter supply than moms who do what they're supposed to. A lot of these kids, particularly the girls, have only ever had men in their lives that beat or otherwise abuse their mothers, or themselves. I suspect some of them have never known a man who didn't try to come on to them sexually. These are 12 and 13 year old girls I'm talking about, here.
There is a lady in our church who seems like a wonderful woman. She and The Wife have struck up what looks like a pretty good friendship. This woman has several kids, one of them a girl. She had to take the boys on a school shopping trip, and they were about to leave as we stopped by yesterday after church. The girl didn't want to go and was basically hiding, hoping they'd go without her. Not gonna happen. This is one mom who's on the ball and won't let her kids by with TOO much.
We offered to take her for the afternoon. She and her mom had taken care of our animals for us during long weekends away before and she knew us. She missed our dogs and cats too, and I guess we looked like a better option than spending a day with several noisy, rude boys who tend to pick on her. So we had a visitor for the day.
She stayed with us for about 6 hours. In that time, she watched TV with me, took a nap, played yaghtzee with The Wife, played with the dogs, sat and talked with me, and basically did a great impression of a great person who I'd love to hang around with more.
Her mom came to get her later, and she seemed genuinely sorry to go. We gave her a sackful of my gumballs (I love those things you get for a quarter, but you can get them at discount warehouses for a nickel apiece if you buy in bulk, which we do) plus a bunch of other candy stuff we'd bought for "Josie" before she went insane, so someone would enjoy it before it got too old.
And the last thing she did before leaving was walk uneasily up to me as I was sitting in my chair and just sort of stand there. I know what a kid looks like when they're looking for a hug. I did my "fatherly" duty. You should have seen the smile that got me.
She'll be back again, I think. And she'll be welcome literally with open arms. You see, her dad tried to kill her mother once upon a time. She needs to have firsthand experience that all men are not like that. She needs to be shown how a man should treat a woman...I made sure to hug and kiss The Wife several times in front of her while she was here. She needs to be shown that when she gets to that age that's just around the corner for her, that kind of treatment is what she should expect from any man who ever wants the pleasure of her company.
I need to be a daddy. I was made for this stuff. It makes me feel like I have a truly important, difference-making part to play in people's lives. I'm sure God had reasons for making me unable to have children the way He did, but He sure did make it harder for me to get into the position of being a daddy. Maybe that's the point...because this way I appreciate the opportunity more than most daddies.