Today on Mother's Day I wanted to write about one of my patients who I've been thinking about since she came into the office earlier this week. She is a mother to two grown kids, but it's not this mothering which is terribly remarkable. It's the other kids she parents, her foster kids.
Foster parents are prone to stereotypes of taking care of kids for a paycheck and incidents of abuse in foster homes occasionally leads the evening news, but this is far from the case for this woman. She once was assigned a developmentally delayed baby exposed to various drugs in utero, and after a several years of being unable to find another permanent home for the child she went ahead and adopted him as her own. Her greatest fault is perhaps that I still haven't been able to convince her to quit smoking.
The kids she cares for generally stay with her for days to months. She gets to know them long enough to make an attachment and then they leave again. Most of the foster kids who come into her home have just been pulled from their own and placed into the system. I know this because each time this happens she brings them into the office for a good once over. This is how I came to see her earlier this week. A seven year old boy who had just been removed from his parents home the night before. He was covered in dirt when he arrived and she noticed some skin findings concerning for abuse when she gave him a bath. Still missing his mother, he was still crying when he came in to see me. She was right about the exam findings, but there was nothing to do about the physical scars but let them heal. My work was done, but hers was just starting with him.
I'm not sure I could ever have the patience and compassion to do what she does, and for this she has my utmost respect and admiration. Now if I could only to get her to quit smoking.