For reasons unknown to me at the moment, I have stepped farther back from being a single mom in the "traditional" way (as traditional as sperm donors get! HA!) and more towards fostering.
Currently I have 4 friends who foster to varying degrees: one has 4 currently under the age of 4 with plans to adopt 2, one went in knowing she was going to adopt 2 older boys, one who fostered but has been on a break for a year but is going to start up next year and one has 3 bio kids and fosters temporarily when there is a need. I also have one friend who works at a summer camp for foster kids who got certified and planned to adopt a teenager before a family member stepped up for her. What can I say? Us teachers are a compassionate bunch and I have amazing friends.
When I first started making plans to be a mom, fostering was always my worst case scenario/plan C/only as a last resort means to an end. It never really was something I considered because I just figured I would do the whole pregnancy thing and have a bio child. But as all huge decisions should, I'm taking time to map out all options I've swung to the far opposite spectrum (whereas maybe a year ago I was 100% sperm donor/pregnancy) and am now considering all benefits to this path.
- No pregnancy -- as amazing as the creation and birth of life is, the idea of giving up my body and having permanent change as a result is a bit daunting. Gain 60 lbs? Pee when you sneeze? Not to mention morning sickness, swollen ankles and mood swings.
- No hospital bills -- create life? Cool. Now we're gonna charge you $20,000 for making a human. Have I mentioned my insurance sucks?
- No fertility treatments -- no selecting sperm donors, monitoring cycles, procedures, sonograms, HSGs, bloodwork every few days
- No "never" -- the system is full (and unfortunately always will be) of children who can't live with their bio parents. It may not be the first phone call, but there is a child out there somewhere that could be mine. Fertility treatments could possibly end with nothing no matter how hard you try or how long you wait.
- State support -- while I would foster to eventually adopt, there is financial support here. The money I have spent years saving could be used to LIVE a life as a family not just try not to drown. That support would eventually go away but even 18 mo-2 yrs of daycare support would be a huge gift.
- SAVE A LIFE -- a couple months ago there was this absolutely sickening story of a child who lost their life at the hand of their parent and how the system allowed her to fall through the cracks. Multiple safety nets failed and now she's dead. That has stuck with me and has been a lot of the fuel with this most recent swing.
But like with everything in my life, the worries always creep in...
- Will I be able to love a child I know is not mine the same way I would love a child that was?
- Will my family and friends be able to?
- What if the child ends up allergic to my pets? I cannot look my friends in the eye if it came down to me having to get rid of them (I have a rescue group and have spent the last 5 years of my life condemning this!)
- What if I do this and I find out it's not for me?
- Am I willing to handle the ups and downs of this side of motherhood? I could open up my heart to a child and then have them taken away...
- Do I follow my heart (at it's current moment, check back in 6 months) and go down this path, possibly eating up viable fertile time in my 30's just to possibly end up over 35 and wishing I hadn't?
See. Sparks. Flames. Hamster is out of control in that wheel up there!