The Moving Staircases of Expectations

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Expectations. They're kind of necessary, aren't they? They help us make plans, they give us hope, they move us forward. 

But what happens when you sign up for a life where expectations aren't and can't be met? What happens when the driving force of expectations disappears? What happens to that hope?

In our years-long journey to get to this point of being licensed foster parents, one thing has remained true: Don't hold onto expectations.

Doing so leads to disappointment, heartbreak and frustration. 

I learn this lesson over and over again. I grasp onto it, but then, before I know it, I'm setting new expectations and holding to them until I'm disappointed, yet again.

They're sneaky, those expectations. They slither in even when I'm trying to keep them at bay. And then they're not met and I'm left frustrated, confused, wandering around trying to figure out my next point of action. 

Foster care is based on a system of moving parts. Think of it like the magical moving staircases in the castle of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series. The staircases are there, they have a purpose and an end-point, but they may not be exactly where you need them to be when you go to use them, or they may not lead you to where you want to go. 

Foster care is made up of those moving stair cases. There is an eventual end point of placing kids in crisis into safe homes until they can be reunited with their families. But events occur, a staircase moves. When I go to use that staircase, I get frustrated that it doesn't take me where I want it to. Sometimes, like in one of the Harry Potter movies (click here to see the scene I'm talking about), the staircase can move while I'm traversing up the steps, changing my way mid-course. 

So I may wait for it to move back to where I need it to be. But by that time, something else has happened and I need to use another staircase. I have to change my plans, my course of action, once again.

I think God is putting us through this process of unmet expectations and moving staircases to prepare us for the real test of when we're actually placed with a child. Case workers show up unannounced. Biological parents cast accusations and then my family has to be investigated. Bio mom has another baby and it needs to be placed with a sibling, so even though we are set with the one child, we shift things around and make room for baby brother or sister. 

Things are never certain in foster care. I knew this theoretically before we were licensed. And now, I know it in reality. Our stable life of routine and comfort are being shaken. Our staircases are being moved. And I can either stomp my feet up and down the stairs, grit my teeth and scream in protest and frustration, or I can hang on to the rail and go along with the ride, walk up the staircase and see where it leads. 

When we signed up for this, I had the sense that we were saying good bye to the life we've known. It's been just Chris and me for almost 5 years. We managed to add two fur babies into the mix, and they've seamlessly become part of our routine and comfort. But now, now we are at the mercy of an agency that decides who we gave the power to decide a lot of things for our lives for the foreseeable future. 

Do I buck against the restraints and unmet expectations? Or do I throw my hands in the air and go along for the ride? 

I'm learning to go with the flow. It's hard. I like to know what the next hour, the next day, the next week holds. But this is where we're being lead. This is the life we know has been waiting for us. It's been a wild ride and there's no end in sight. 

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