"You want to have a birthday party at where? McDonalds???? Ugh I'd rather stick a fork in my eye and call it a day"
That was my first thought when J-man's Bio Mom mentioned doing a birthday party for him (AT MCDONALDS). But, of course I said "yes", because well, I say "yes" to everything and everyone. More importantly, we are fostering not only to bless and love on hurting babies but also their families. This is also Bio Mom's first baby and first birthday and first birthday party. So, what Bio Mom wants, she gets. The CPS worker was listening to all the planning and looked at me and asked me if I was ok with this (one more time). This time, with a look in her eyes that said, "No, seriously, no one does this and so you don't have to do it." I later talked to our agency worker and found out that it is true; not many foster parents do the birthday party thing with Bio Moms. I can sort of understand why, but then again not really.
Fast forward to the day of the party. We're driving to the party, and I start to realize what we've gotten ourselves into. First, UGH MCDONALDS! I hate that place with a passion. I hate their food and the smell and the dirty playground, and I just HATE it, ok?! (By the way, my boys ABSOLUTELY LOVE MCDONALDS and think it's the coolest place in the world.) I start getting nervous because I have no idea what to expect. I know that Bio Mom is coming and she is inviting 20 people. I know that we are the responsible party in the eyes of the state and have to make sure everything stays cool. And, I know that it is at McDonalds (ok last time I talk about that I promise...maybe). I start thinking what if Bio Mom doesn't bring any plates or decorations or cake and panic a little, so I make Adam stop at Target and I run in and pick up a few essentials. (Adam reassures me that there will be a cake so I don't get one of those). We continue driving. We show up at that restaurant I told you I wouldn't mention again and no one is there. I'm kind of worried now. We go inside and find a place to sit in the kid area and put stuff on 2 other tables to save a spot for others and then we wait..... Finally, we text Bio Mom and she says she is on her way.
She arrives and I take a deep breath, cause now it's "go time". But, the first 5 minutes were so cute to watch, because I've been there before (setting up my first baby's 1st Birthday party). Bio Mom was nervous, I could tell and so were her friends. She had all kinds of decorations, party favor bags, a wonderful cake with J-man's picture our Daniel had taken, lots of presents, buttons for J-man to wear, etc. It was great. I begin to think that this is going to be great.
Unfortunately, J-man was having a hard time. Usually when we visit Bio Mom, I hand him over and they go back into the CPS office. Well, at the party Bio Mom held him while we sat 10 feet away. That was hard on him and he cried for 15 minutes straight. But, soon he had french fries and realized we weren't leaving and did better the rest of the party.
It was also awkward because no one wanted to talk to us, and we were pretty much shunned by the party attenders except for Bio Mom who thinks we are just about the coolest thing ever. I don't like feeling that people don't "like" me, and I felt that way the whole party. Not good for a girl who struggles with self esteem issues already. But, I understood why people weren't standing in line waiting to get a picture with the foster family.
At the end of the party, Bio Mom walked us out and I got a big hug with lots of tears and genuine "Thank you" and that made everything worth it. Again, fostering is HARD and sometimes I can't believe we are doing this craziness. But, we're doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing right now. One day, we'll stand in court and watch J-man (probably) be reunified back with his Bio Mom. That will be cool and difficult at the same time. I also know that one day we will stand in court again with another son or daughter in our arms hearing the words "adoption." Until then we keep loving and we keep spreading hope.