Being a Foster Parent During Civil Unrest and a Global Pandemic
May was National Foster Care Awareness month — a window in time to recognize that we each play a part in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care. May gave way to June which is National Reunification Month, a time that recognizes the people and efforts around the country that help families to stay together. This year, these important recognition months come during a time of civil unrest, a global pandemic, and an economic crisis. At a smaller scale, these months fall on the third and fourth month of a life of stay at home “quarantine” for my family.
For us, we are working from home, homeschooling and caring for three foster children, and trying to navigate these complex times with a level head. Like all parents, we are doing our best to explain the world around our children. First came the pandemic and why they couldn’t visit their family in person any more, why they couldn’t go to school, and wouldn’t be able to leave our house without a mask. Often, we fell far short of an adequate explanation. Then, in the midst of a pandemic, the murder of George Floyd painfully exposed a grave wound in our society. Now, we are charting new territories with conversations that carry more personal and profound implications. As white parents to children of different backgrounds than our own, we signed up for work that we knew was not going to be easy. In our home we have a white pre-teen, and two Hispanic sisters, ages six and two. Due to the beautiful dark skin of our six year old, we know that she is more likely to experience discrimination.
I was a teacher when the Black Lives Matter movement was just getting started. I remember navigating complicated conversations with my students about Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin. Looking back through old emails and resources from that time brought me to a student note that I stored away: “You have really proved to me that there are people other than African Americans who feel strongly about what is going on”.
Is that truly something that needed to be proved? Apparently it was — and still is.
As the news of George Floyd’s murder swept across our nation, and protests rightfully erupted, I found myself momentarily debilitated and unable to find the right words to describe the emotions I was feeling…