Most people understand foster care about as well as they understand their income tax forms. The foster care “system” and the process by which children are placed, and moved, can be really confusing. I get it. We were SO there, prior to foster parenting. So it goes without saying that as a foster parent, awkward moments will inevitably come your way. Today’s post is about one of ours. Hashtag fosterparentprobs. Shared for your comic relief.
When we started foster parenting, Mr. Bean and I fostered two toddler boys back-to-back. Well, sort of back-to-back … but with a 4-month gap between Mancub’s reunification and Little Bean’s placement. (You can read more about Mancub’s reunification and Little Bean’s placement here.) In so many ways, the two boys could not be more different. Their physical size and appearance, however, was certainly the most obvious difference.
Mancub is olive-skinned (being half Hispanic), and Little Bean is light. At barely two years of age, Mancub’s full, thick head of deep brown hair stood in stark contrast to Little Bean’s hair, scarcely more than blond peach fuzz then. Most notably, however, was the boys’ size differential. Mancub was sturdy. He amply filled out his 2Ts, quickly needing an upgrade to 3Ts while he was with us. So imagine our surprise a few months later, when we picked up Little Bean, and discovered that he was so slight of build. Tipping the scale at barely 20 lbs, Little Bean wore 12 and 18 mo size clothes for quite a while.
The Awkward Situation
A couple of days after Little Bean’s placement, he and I went to the mailbox. As per the usual, our neighborhood busybody was lurking, looking primed for a chat. Noticing his presence, I quickly took out my key and shifted Little Bean over to one hip, but not before Busybody calls out, “wow, he’s getting big!” Keep in mind that I had not seen Busybody in quite some time. Perhaps months. I actually avoided mailbox trips if I saw him out and about. Which means that this was the first time that he would have seen (tiny) Little Bean, too … making his question all the more hilarious!
Me: “Uhhhhhhhh …” <points to tiny new child; stumbles for words>
Busybody: “Uhhhh. Ohhhhhhh. Wait.”
Me: “He’s, uhhhhhhh …”
BB: “Wait. Ummmmmmm. Is this the same kid? Or, uhhhhh, no wait. This is a different one, right?”
Me: <breathes small sigh of relief> “Yes, this is actually a different kid. This is ______. He was placed with us a few days ago. You’re probably thinking of ______. He was actually reunified with his family a few months ago.” <quickly grabs mail> “Allrightie then! We’ll see you later!”
People have good intentions.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. It is an awkward situation, and most people do their best to respond in ways that are simply demonstrating their interest in your life. At the time, though, it really caught me off guard. (After all, Little Bean was roughly half the size of Mancub. LOL) But at the end of the day, Busybody wasn’t being nosy … he simply wanted to make conversation.
So, how about you? Have you ever had an awkward situation like mine, whether in foster parenting, adoption or step parenting? How did you handle it? (I’m still learning!)