I’ve been fortunate to go to Haiti twice. My first trip to Haiti was with a medical team a few months after the devastating earthquake in 2010. I was an EMT at the time and went with a team of 6 to Port Au Prince, the capital of Haiti and one of the areas hardest hit by the earthquake. We worked with an organization and set up a temporary medical clinic in one of the tent cities. In 2013 I was able to go back with my church to serve with a ministry in the small rural town of Chambrun. At that time I was a paramedic and was able to help in the medical clinic and our group did some outreach activities in other local communities. I learned a lot during my visits and have such a fondness and respect for their beautiful country and culture.
The Haitian people are a model of pride and resilience. For much of their existence they have been dealt a bad hand by corrupt leaders and outside influences, but they remain a strong and proud people. There is a Haitian proverb that says Dèyè mòn, gen mòn, which translates to behind mountains, more mountains. It’s the idea that there will always be another challenge facing you. For the Haitians those challenges have come by way of foreign occupation, corrupt governments, a devastating earthquake, and a cholera epidemic among other things. I think that this phrase applies to the foster care system as well.
Each part of the foster care journey can feel like a mountain, and every time you get past one mountain you are quickly faced with another.
- Once you start thinking about foster care you may have to convince a reluctant spouse.
- Once you convince your spouse, you have to choose an agency to get licensed through.
- Once you pick an agency, you have to do a mountain (pun intended) of paperwork and prepare your home for inspections.
- Once all that is done, you have to wait for the state to approve your license.
- Once you have your license, you get your first placement.
- Once you have your first placement you are faced with the challenges of parenting a child from a hard place.
- Once the child has been with you, reunification may happen and you have to say goodbye.
- Once a child leaves your home, you begin to prepare for your next placement.
Dèyè mòn, gen mòn — behind mountains, more mountains.
It’s important for foster parents to not become defined by the highs or the lows that happen on their foster care journey. Understanding that there are peaks and valleys are key to being a great foster parent for a long time. Foster parents should definitely celebrate successes and grieve losses – foster care is a very emotional experience, but they should remember that they are on a journey of mountains.
For more information about foster care or resources to help you navigate some of the mountains you may be going through, please contact us or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.