I went to Bill and told him that I thought we should call DCF and sign on to be foster parents. He thought I was nuts. Why would we want to foster children when we had so much going on in our own lives? I was already overwhelmed with therapy, working with the school and getting medications for the two children that were struggling. To put it simply? It was so that we could help the children in care as well as the children under our own roof. We could build empathy! We could use the strengths and weaknesses our two littles had to better others and to better themselves. He wasn’t quite on board, but I told him we needed to give it a try.
The next day I called DCF and told them we wanted to become foster parents. I wanted to foster short term or on a respite basis only. I didn’t want to be involved with the department or with the biological families of these kiddos. I wanted to bring a child into our home for a weekend or a few days and love them like crazy. Make sure they had a warm bath and even warmer hugs. I wanted to make a difference in their lives as well as a difference in our and our children’s lives. I didn’t want to get to attached to them and I would with being a long-term foster parent.
After renewing our license, we were able to open our doors to those in need. Our first little guy was with us for two days. He was only a few months old. Handsome as all heck. We loved him like crazy while he was here. Can I just tell you that my two younger ones loved on him like crazy all day long. They wanted to hold him, play with him, feed him his bottle, put a blanket on him, sit on the floor and make goofy faces to him to make him smile and help me get him dressed. This was working for us. We got to give our little guy a great few days and the other two were taking charge of things, but in a helpful way. They could tell him that it was time to eat because he couldn’t respond. He was dependent on us and that was beneficial all around. It helped our two feel so good about themselves and learn that giving back is the best way to live. It taught them about how they should have been treated when they came into care. It was a powerful lesson.
We had a couple of other children come and go and every time it was a positive experience for all of us. In February of 2015, I got a call from DCF about a little boy who they wanted us to take for four days. They told us he was a sibling set of four. His older two brothers were able to find a permanent long-term foster placement. The sister they were not sure what to do with. I said that we would take both, but they thought they could find her a long-term placement and would try that first. So, on Friday night, one little 8-month-old boy came to our home. We had four full days to take care of him. To love him and keep him happy. To provide an abundance of food, formula, warmth and fun.
On Tuesday, DCF called and asked how we were making out with our little guy. He was phenomenal. Such a good baby. We loved having him. They informed me they didn’t have a permanent home for him yet. Could I keep him just a few more days? At least till the end of the week? Well of course we can. We wanted to help. He was a dream and it was only a few more days. Then Friday came. Can you guess what happened? They still didn’t have a permanent home for this little boy. After a lot of pleading and me saying I couldn’t do it over and over, I backed down and said we would keep him just until they found a permanent placement for him. Well they finally did. Three and a half years later. He was adopted by us. Did I happen to mention that we adopted his sister as well? And then there were five.
I never in my wildest dreams expected to adopt five kids. It wasn’t part of my plan at all. Just goes to show that plans can change. Sometimes for the better. Can I also say that nobody is closer to our little boy than his 12-year-old sister. You know the reasons why I thought bringing littles was a good idea! Did you know that my 10-year-old son has never so much as flicked a finger at his little brother? He has lost control at school and is currently in a therapeutic day school because he has a hard time controlling himself with impulsivity, however, he is the first one that will sit down in front of the TV and have his six-year-old sister sit on him and watch a program together. Did I happen to mention that the 10-year-old does homework with his younger sister shortly after he walks her home from her bus stop? I should also mention that when one of the little ones get hurt, the other two come running.
I didn’t cure the ailments that plague our middle two by being a foster parent. They still suffer every single day. However, I do believe that fostering these little treasures that have come into our home over the years has taught our middle two children empathy for strangers who become family members, how to be kind and to be aware that everyone is fighting one kind of battle or another. That you can use control for good by mentoring the little ones as they have been mentored by us.
Being a foster parent isn’t easy. Being a child in the foster system is even harder. At the end of the day, all I can hope is that we have helped these kiddos along in their journey. If there is one thing for certain, they have absolutely helped us.
About Jill Cummings
Jill Cummings graduated from Curry College where she double majored in Sociology and triple majored in English, Psychology and Women’s Studies. She lives in West Boylston with her firefighter/paramedic husband and five adopted children. Jill is currently a stay at home mom who is never at home and plans on working with DCF in the future. She attends conferences and trainings regularly in trauma and other assorted subjects for the benefit of her kids as well as herself.