The Tightrope

The Tightrope

We walk a tightrope

Teetering between misery and joy

Keeping our balance, holding our heads high, steady our eyes on our goal.

Ever mindful of the abyss below of despair, accusations and allegations

Do we trudge on or give up, have another meeting or forget it.

Help or turn a blind eye.

Enter the fray or remain unblemished.


We are parents, but not.

We are caregivers, but more.

We are advocates, hand holders, tissue providers, mediators, charmers,

And purveyors of snake oil; aka magic

Scare the monsters away potions.


There are so many monsters.

Unseen monsters beating on children’s brains

Monsters from the bottles that bio mom emptied again and again


We confront, hug, help heal, and wonder

How to face another day, but we must…the monsters must be defeated.


We welcome heart broken and hurting little ones into our homes. Rages, tears, brains damaged by alcohol (how I have come to hate alcohol). To learn of assaults to thier precious minds and bodies.


We stand by children who

Fight everyday to do what many do easily. Math..who cares what 2 + 2 is when you have spent your life trying to find food? Sit still? When last night you were torn from all you knew to a strangers house that smelled funny. What is that smell??!! “It’s supper cooking” the stranger says. Food? Better eat it before they do – so the hoarding begins.


We learn to fight while balancing on this tight rope.


We fight the bureaucracy; the need to balance budgets with needs for services.


We fight a broken system…all in the best interests of the child the politicians say. Children are not policies we say. Not one fits into the boxes on your checklist.


We fight fatigue.. up at all hours of the night. Our only outlet or support at 3 am are others who are up at the same time for a wide variety of crisis…not reasons for most times there is no visible or imaginable reasons…but crisis.



We fight the ever moving clock that says we are late again. Someone had a meltdown; striking out at the flashback caused by who knows what? 45 minutes gone….we used all the techniques we could remember. One child freshly traumtized; another reliving the nightmare. Their need of a champion comes before the demands of the clock.


Foster parents walk the tight rope.


As society deems us child killers; that’s what the newspapers say. According to reports we refuse to take them to Doctors, let them lay in beds too long, don’t feed them. Do the editors realise once the words are in print, they cannot be taken back? The substance in these stories are miniscule and the entire truth is just too lengthy to print.


We are the voice of these children we love. At never ending meetings with educators, psychologists, therapists, hospital staff, social workers, supervisors, managers. We beg for services, document needs and write the incident reports needed to show that services are necessary. Children we put above our own – “bonus children” need more time than our healthy children so we say. Would our bio children agree?


We have our own lingo in this world called “foster”. OT, PT, SLP, ODD, OCD, SPD, FASD, ADD, ADHD to name just a few. The more rare ones would take most of a page to write, and a more than a few books to explain.These children have the strength of lions, and we pray for the talent to bring out the playful kitten.

Ongoing training is a must. On the job training happens daily.


We walk the tight rope. Balance..teeter…reorient. Keep going


“Your mom loves you, she just doesn’t know how to show it”. Yet the moms are in so much pain themselves. The most loving mothers sign away all rights. Knowing they cannot parent at this time. Wondering if they will ever see their child again. Praying their child will have a better life than the one they had.

No mention of Dad – he is usually long gone.


Wrapping our outrage of the entire situation in a bundle and burying it deep inside. Wonder why many Foster Parents wear above size 2? It’s the bundles.


The rewards? We cry with joy as we hear:

“He is 3 but he has finally learned how to eat with a spoon!”

“She only cut herself once in the last 6 months; 2 years ago it was weekly”

“Only one trip to the hospital this month!”

”They’re ours, finally legally ours..EEEKK!!”

“He actually laughed today”


That is why…..

We walk the tight rope.

By: Kate