How do you feel about applying traditional celebrations to non-traditional circumstances?
I’m in the process of becoming a foster parent, and I’m planning to be licensed to foster up to two girls at a time, with ages ranging from newborns to age 10. It’s not the widest age range available – that would be newborn to age 18 – but newborn to 10 still covers a whole lot of ground. From cribs and car seats to school supplies and toys, I’m beginning to realize just how much stuff I’m going to need.
While flipping through my stack of mail, I found a cheerful pink card reminding me to RSVP for a Sigma Kappa sister’s baby shower, and the lightbulb went on over my head. First-time parents have baby showers. I’m going to be a first-time parent. I should have a baby shower. It would be fun to throw a party and have people bring whatever gift they think would be most useful to help fill the vast gulf between infant and preteen.
My brilliant idea only made it as far as the first friend whose opinion I asked. She was hesitant about the concept.
“You’re choosing to become a foster parent, right? Don’t you think it will come across as self-serving to ask people to buy stuff for you?”
I didn’t think that, any more than I thought my pregnant friend was self-serving for asking us to celebrate the birth of her baby with gifts, but a quick Google search turned up plenty of websites agreeing with my friend’s perspective. “Foster showers” were derided on message boards and in blog posts. The criticisms surprised and disappointed me. People asked why foster children needed new clothes, or why they should be expected to buy a gift for a child who might only be in the family for a few weeks.
Just like my friends who choose to have biological children, foster parents are also choosing parenthood. They dedicate their time and energy to caring for children in terrible situations, children who may be victims of horrific abuse or neglect. Those children are taken from everything and everyone they know, sometimes with only the clothes on their backs, and placed in a stranger’s home.
Baby showers celebrate the arrival of a child and the transition into parenthood. The arrival of foster children is filled with uncertainty, but I believe every child’s arrival deserves to be celebrated, no matter how they arrive in their new home or how long they stay. Foster parenthood is chaotic and unpredictable, but I believe every parent deserves the support of their friends as they start a new chapter in their lives.
I’m so grateful to have my Sigma Kappa sisters who’ve been unfailingly supportive as I begin this journey. For anyone out there who’s thinking about becoming a foster parent, you should hit up my big sis to throw your shower. I have it on good authority that mine is going to be a party for the ages – especially ages 0 to 10!