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Swell Hearts

Swell Series: Fostering Love

Swell Series: Fostering Love

Swell Foster Care Series

On Becoming Foster Parents

Guest writer, Melinda Rubinstein, will chronicle her family's experience as foster parents in real time as a collaboration with Swell Forever to raise awareness about the needs of children in foster care and those of their care givers. Her blog can be found at www.palindromeathome.com.  

Fostering Love: Melinda Rubinstein in San Francisco, CA

Eleven months ago I called the Health and Human Services of San Francisco to ask how we could help care for a child in need. Yesterday, we graduated from 80 hours of training and passed our 3rd home inspection. Now we wait for our phone to ring.

I want to document this moment because it’s the great in between.

We have done what we can to become parents, but nature, bureaucracy and the divine have conspired in ways that are beyond my comprehension. What seems simple as a nursery rhyme becomes a frustrating, disappointing process that leaves you wondering if your parenthood is even meant to be. The process is unclear. The rules are arbitrary. The government places all the liability in my lap and then tells me how to raise a child. But first they have to call me.

Before that call, my heart was broken seeing the photo of a 2-year-old with all of her teeth rotted out. I searched deep in my soul hearing of the birth mother, who herself was born into hell on earth. I shook my head at the magnitude of the systemic problems and most people’s ambivalence. I breathed hot breaths through angry tears at how the world sits pretty in the abdication of its social responsibility. And it strengthened my resolve that I needed to do something.

Every morning I wake up with the hope that today will be the day I meet my child.

Yet, I know that when I meet them, I won’t know if they’ll be mine forever or mine for a time. To hold these two things in my heart at once is an exercise in tempered optimism or heartfelt insanity, depending on the day. Sometimes, the cognitive dissonance between hoping a child joins your family and hoping the foster care system didn’t have to exist at all is overwhelming. The bittersweet taste in my mouth can’t be washed down. I hope the calls comes. I hope it never comes. That my child could be spared from the pain, neglect, abuse that resulted in that call. I hope my home and heart create a safe place for my child. I hope my child is safe at home already.

Reality draws me back to hoping for today.


Photography Courtesy of Jenna Cole


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