Which Hand Do You Eat Your Chips With?

So, May is National Foster Care Month.  I have good friends who are foster parents.  And, it is true that it takes a special kind of person to do it.  Because I don’t know if I could.

We were just starting the adoption process.  And, as I was looking at the faces of the older children online, I also thought about the possibility of adopting a baby.  When adopting from the system, if you want an infant, for the most part, you have to go the “foster-to-adopt” route and hope that you end up with the option to adopt a baby that you foster.

One night, I spent a lot of time reading about the process while Brian was at work.  I was officially inspired when he got home.  Because, although I’m a big supporter of older child adoption, I’m also human and thought it would be really cool to adopt a baby.

When I started talking to Brian about it, he did something that he doesn’t do very often (partially because it almost never works…), he stopped me in my tracks.  He told me that it was a bad idea for me.  That it would destroy me if they took a child away from our home.  And, he was right.

It didn’t take me long to realize how right he was and also to know that the age of the child was not the critical factor, I just wanted a child.  So, I dropped the idea and went back to scouring the faces of the kids on the various websites.  That turned out to be the right decision. 

This is why I admire the foster parents who take the children in, love them, take care of them, and move on when they move on to what is hopefully the best situation for them.

When we adopted the boys, I did lose sight of that for awhile, though.

I have always been a little (lot) insecure.  I have a need to be validated and those who are close to me, put up with it because they love me.  It’s not because I’m selfish or narcissistic.  But, as a formerly, extremely shy and insecure child/teenager/young adult; it’s hard to shake the doubts that creep into my head.  I’m exaggerating a little, I’m not a total basket case.  But, I do worry. 

This is why when William came to us with tons of memories and anecdotes about his foster parents – “Granddad” and “Nana,” it was hard for me.  I worried that I wasn’t enough.  He had very few memories of the birth mother who he was removed from at age 2.  He remembered the fun highlights like “she didn’t feed me.”  But, not much else.  But, Nana and Granddad had taken care of him for a couple of years. 

He was constantly bringing them up.  And, it was totally understandable.  But, it interfered with my dreamy “nothing-else-matters now” visions.  I felt like I was competing.  Really, Brian and I both did.  It was an odd and slightly ridiculous sensation. 

But, we both listened to him talk about his foster parents and, as difficult as it was to hear, we did understand that he needed to talk about it and we let him.   I talked to him about the birth mother, too, on the more rare occasions that he brought her up.  In my head, I thought, don’t you love me?  What about me??  But, thankfully, I was smart enough to keep my mouth shut. 

Time passed and, almost without noticing, the Nana and Granddad talk had decreased.  And we settled into being a typical family.  (Whatever that means.)  Just like we wanted.

I know that William still struggles with the past and remembers that he was once in that family.  Of course, he does.   And, occasionally, without warning, it comes up.

The other night, we were sitting at the dinner table.  William was eating chips and dipping them in hot sauce.  Gross.  🙂   He asked what hand I eat my chips with.  I checked and confirmed that it was my left hand.  William and I are both lefties, so I kind of assumed that he did, too.  But, he pointed out that he eats them with his right hand.

Then he said, “Eating chips with the right hand used to run in my family.”

This, I was not expecting and I waited to hear exactly which family he was referring to.

He elaborated.  “My foster family used to eat chips with their right hand.”

Not only was it super odd, but it stung a little.  I resisted the urge to look him in the eye and tell him that he must always eat chips with his left hand because this is his one and only family.  Not only would that have been over the top, but, of course, we’re not his one and only family.  He’s got 2 biological brothers and a sister who are not in this family, but are his family.  He’s got the foster parents who were his family, even though they aren’t anymore.  And, of course, he’s got biological connections to other people he knew once, will know one day, or never will.  It makes my head hurt.  And, my heart.  

But, this month, I am reminded of the other side.  Nana and Granddad may have been my unintentional competition.  But, they also deserve my gratitude.  They were the ones that kept my sons safe until we were able to come for them.  William had amazing manners, excellent grammar and vocabulary, and, most importantly, he had an attachment to them.  He felt safe in their care and felt bonded.  And, I believe that is part of the reason that he was able to bond so easily to us. 
I don’t know if I could do it.  I don’t know if I could take care of a child, fall in love with him (because I would), and give him away.  Lucky for me, they could.  There is a huge demand for adoptive parents, but there is also a real need for foster parents.  The system needs more people who will step in and care for these kids until their forever homes are found (with them or elsewhere). 

So, Nana and Granddad did what they needed to do.  They provided care to the boys, took them on trips, and instilled such a Spiderman obsession in William that he introduced himself as Peter Parker when he started VPK.  I’m not sure that last part was in the foster care handbook.  But, you get the point. 😉  They did this, then they stepped back and let us have them. 

So, as much as I wanted to pretend that William and Antwan’s existence started on the day that we met.  It didn’t.  And, really, that’s ok.  They are here now.  And, we will always be grateful to their foster parents for keeping them safe and secure for us until we got our hands on them. 🙂

*And, since it is National Foster Care Month and we are an AdoptUSkids spokesfamily, I’d just thought I’d mention that if you’re interested in foster care, adoption, or other ways to help, please, check out http://adoptuskids.org/!   They’ll help you out. 🙂

34 thoughts on “Which Hand Do You Eat Your Chips With?

  1. ADOPTUSKIDS.Only criminals would take that to the bank.And of course that's what WASHINGTON- QUEEN- RRAPOP did.And so did ADA but he was an orphan so he should be exempted from all the other HERSPRCS.I'll tell you one thing.SONNO is going to get it up the ANESS in ANESSUP .And so will DASSAULT.


  2. Hi. I stumbled across your blog a while ago through an adoptive family we know, I love reading! Anyway, we are a foster family. We become licensed for foster care with the intention to adopt. We didn't want to foster, only adopt. Anyway, our first placement was of course a foster placement. It was 2 boys (6 months and 3 years). The 3 year old went home to his dad in about 6 weeks. The baby just went home to his dad (different dads) this week—after being with us 15 months. When we first got him, I was ready to fight anyone who said this baby should ever go home, but as things went on, we could see being with his biological dad was what was best for our little guy. When people say \”I could never give them back\”, I always reply with \”they aren't mine to give back or to keep\”. We think of ourselves as babysitters sometimes. It has been hard to say goodbye, but no where near as hard as I thought it would be. You could do it too!Shannon


  3. Hi, Shannon, thanks for reading! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story. I'm sorry that things didn't work out for you. I have a lot of respect for you for handling it so well! I still don't know if I could do it. 🙂 Glad there are people like you who can, though!


  4. My husband and I became foster parents after a failed private adoption. Giving our baby girl back to her mother was the hardest thing we had ever done, but when it was over we realized we were still ok. We were still the same people we were before, and the world did not end as I figured it would. 🙂 We knew that the kids in the foster care system needed parents, good parents, even if it was only for a little while…so we decided this must be what the universe wants for us. Our first foster placement came quickly, it was a newborn baby boy who was ready to leave the hospital. We ended up adpoting him about 6 months later. Now 4 years later we are still doing foster care. I do hope to adopt again, but we love each and every foster child as if they are our own. I think of them all every day in different ways, and even though it hurts when they go, I look back at it all with so much happieness…..These kids have made me a better person. I'm very thankful for all of them. 🙂 -Mom to 1, Foster Mom to 13 over the last 4 years


  5. Keep up the great blog! Many newbies have little info.about foster kids, I know! You just get pushed into the deep end,You Swim,or Not. I have adopted my 2 little guys,But had no extra time for more. The Drs. therapist + Speech all keep me hopping. But recently I see the advances I have hoped for. I luv program LOVE+ Logic! Wish I knew about it for My biological Daughter.


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