Outside of Your Own Chest: Our Story as Foster Parent
I never knew it was possible to see your heartbeat outside of your own chest and into someone you’ve only just heard about through a phone call. Here is what we know…are you open to taking this placement? The split-second decision that will change your life for who knows how long and with very few details on why. Even two years in, with every phone call a million questions flood our minds. All while a million more emotions flood our hearts.
The story of our foster parenting experience begins like this: born from years of suffering through the pain and heartache of infertility, it was in the same way, a calling. There is a need for foster parents much greater than the colossal hole that took up so much space in my heart. A hole that was making room for the children we so desperately wanted to love. I cannot separate our faith from this story. To say it most succinctly, we prayed and God answered.
Sometimes overnight the entire face of our family changes. While that may seem chaotic, there is something euphoric about the presence of peace the moment a child steps into our home. This child for whom we have unknowingly prayed. This child who has lost everything they know to be familiar. Even in their scared, hurt, and confusion, we selfishly are glad to have this child to love forever now that we’ve met them. And with each new child, a new chapter in our story begins. For someone who always swore that she’d be happy with just one child, the reality that hangs in photos on our gallery wall is just a glimpse of all that we have been blessed with.
I find myself mustering a smile that feels both authentic and forced when people ask how it is to be a foster parent. How do you tell someone in a way that encapsulates all that you feel? To phrase it honestly, it is the greatest oxymoron, the most beautiful heartbreak that I have ever said yes to. It is the most heart-swelling hellos and the most painful goodbyes, even with much preparation for that inevitable. It is the scariest, yet most thrilling roller-coaster. It is the hardest role I’ve ever had but my most favorite of all. And while there is a lot I wish could be different, I wouldn’t change this story for anything.
If I’m telling it honestly, there are many hard parts. Yet the hardest parts of being a foster parent are nothing in comparison to the best parts. The parts that live on through your memories and are etched into your heart forevermore. The smiles, hugs, kisses, and snuggles. The laughter and the excitement. The bond that you build with each child; your child who was and is always someone else’s too.
It is for this child, each child, that you will learn to love the best parts over the hard ones. It is for their sake that you’ll learn to be patient and when you grow weary. It is their resiliency that helps you be resilient when you feel like quitting. It is their growth that causes you too to grow. The very essence of their self will break you of any selfishness if you let it. You’ll become a stronger version of yourself because of their strength and a more forgiving person as you grow to know your child, and their parents, in their best and in their worst. It is because of their story, the one that leads them to you and the one that will continue because of you, that your story will continue.
Most of all, when the hard parts feel unbearable or utterly break you, you’ll think about how your heart is beating outside your own chest in the children who are no longer in your home, and in the children who lie sleeping in the next room, and in the children you will know to come in the future. And you’ll agree --it’s the most beautiful, rewarding heartbreak that you’ll continue to say yes to, for their sake.
Jasmine Currie is an Academic Advisor for Student Support Services, a TRIO program at ACTC. Currie is an alumnus of Shawnee State University (AS and BA) and Arkansas State University (MS -College Student Personnel Services). She and her husband, Orlando, have been licensed foster parents since September 2019. During their time as foster parents, they have been fortunate to call themselves “parents” to 7 beautiful foster children. Presently, she is “mama” to a teen, a set of almost-2-year-old twins, and human mom to the sweetest 10-year old golden retriever, yellow lab dog.