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Forging foster bonds not easy or natural
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Fostering first: An occasional series
Times Metro Editor Shannon Casas and her husband recently became foster parents. This series explores her experiences as a new parent in that special role. To read previous entries in the series, follow these links:

First story
Second story
Third story

Everyone has an idea of what the role of parent means.

It may be a traditional mother baking cookies for when the kids get home from school.

It may be a father crawling on all fours with a child playing horsey on his back.

But no matter the image that pops in your head, a parent is someone who loves and cares for their children more than they could ever explain and who tries to protect them from any harm.

The role of foster parent is a lot like parent.

I want to protect the two children who have come to live with my husband and me. And I am certainly caring for them. Do we have a bond like most parents and children? No.

Every day I drop them off at day care and some days I hear the other parents say “I love you” to their kids.

I wonder if I should be doing the same, but it feels awkward. We want the children to develop a bond with us, but it’s not just them who need to develop that bond.

I’m acutely aware that the emotions I’m feeling are different than those of other parents.

But I’m not the only one in the picture. There are parents and relatives, there are case workers, there are attorneys and Court-Appointed Special Advocates. These people aren’t a part of their daily life the same way my husband and I are, but they have more say about the children’s futures.

I’m here to provide a safe home with a bed and food.

I will kiss the kids’ boo-boos and play with blocks, send pictures of their smiling faces to my family and take them to Touch-A-Truck and the water park. But I know it’s all temporary. I will not watch them grow up.

And it breaks my heart that they have to develop this bond with us only for it to be broken.

They smile at me and call me mommy, and their innocence and ignorance is crushing.

They do not know they are different.

I hate the circumstances that have put them here.

I’m fueled by the ridiculous and arbitrary short stick they drew in life. They do not deserve this, and so I will love them and provide for them to the best of my ability.

My bond to them will strengthen, too, until it all feels natural.

Though I know it’s not forever, that love and stability I can provide for whatever length of time is what they deserve.