motherhood Presence

Motherhood is a presence for better and for worse

I met Kasia months ago to talk to her and write her story. The meeting was so moving and full of tears that I made notes in my Mommas notebook and closed it for months. I knew that we need to hear those words but somehow I was afraid that words can’t reflect emotions of young, brave woman who suddenly became a Foster mother and completely reorganised her life.

Kasia’ s story with its clear message came back to me now, during the pandemia of coronavirus and #stayhome period. Every mother has different definition of motherhood, we struggle with slightly different things and – as our project showed- we still share the same doubts and joys. Recently I even stronger discovered how presence is crucial for motherhood. Our presence with a child, our closeness, our support. Constance presence often brings also frustration, tiredness, weaker moments. But at the end the child needs the most our love and …presence. For me being a mother is in the first place being close to my child, sometimes angry, sometimes woriedd but being with him. From this perspective, being a mother for 3 last years and everything what we have passed together, biological labor is…just a detail.

Miss traveler becomes mum

I met Kasia in internet. She represents Wałbrzych (my town) Association of Foster Parenting „Here and Now”. This here and now part is so important. Families gathered there are not adoption families. Those people work with social services and in the case of emergency and take children who need immidiate help to their homes and give them all support they are able to. Children who were neglected or beaten or hungry or sexually abused or in any way not supported by their biological families, very often because of alcohol problems. Every case is different, mostly they have to deal with numerous families where children can’t be divided by law. Foster care doesn’t mean permamenent care. It means till the moment that bilogical parents, who usaually get a credit of trust, feel ready to be responsible again or till social services find the proper adoption family. However in many cases this replacement care becomes a real and long term family for two reasons: biological parents in small percentage are ready to be serious and look after children (even though the system works for them and never lacks the chance again), it is difficult to find adoption family for siblings, especially if they are not very small and have already their issues. It is sad and unfair, but tis is how the world works.
When destiny made its game, Kasia was 36 years old, without plans to have her own children. She was travelling across the world, living in different places: in Germany, in Spain. A butterfly, dreamer, talented in arts, naturelover – this is how I see her. Once she had to decide to become mother for her two nices because her brother and his partner didn’t manage and let’s leave it like this.
I made a list of pros and cons. I was financally independent. After becoming foster mother I would get money from the state (let’s be clear it’s a small amount) and be fobidden to work and earn money apart it. The list was clear. It wasn’t for me. In my life there was no space for children. I went for a meeting thinking to say no, but I said…yes. – says Kasia
She is a religious person, so she made an assumption that if the God invented this situaion it means he has got a plan. Now she is a mother for 4 girls, because she welcomed in her family more 2 little angels who needed mother – here and now.

Our family is 4 years old.

I don’t regret, but I have lost a lot. My whole life is subordinated by kids and burocracy connected with social services, trails in courts and attempts of biological parents to show they try, but it doesn’t work. I long to take a backpack, Bieszczady (beautiful mountain area of south-east Poland) calls me but I can’t go anywhere now. What I gained? My decision was like jumping head for the pool, but now I have family that I didn’t even imagine. It’s difficult to racionalise it, but there are smiles, moments together, words like thank you. There are difficult moments, when I want to be alone, I feel tired. There was a time, when I was so tought with myself. I thought that I decided to be foster mother so I have to do this and this. Now I matured to treat myself better, that I am also worth of moments for myself after lots of tears of pride and helplessness. – says Kasia.

foster_family

Everyday effort to rebuild
Children in replacement families in particulary need a lot of attention. The have lacks in health, emotional development. They need to deal with agression, anger, lack of trust. They need to feel safe. Foster parents spend days to create a relations, rebuild the basis of trust in adults and establish the rules of daily life. – Sometimes I loose the will to carry on. I heard “I want ot go back to my home, because I don’t need to do anything there” because biological parents were not stable, they didn’t give attention and didn’t expect to follow the rules. I am not happy to say that, but they often spoil the effort, our work with children. They have a right to meet with kids. In front of the court they prove to be worth to call them parents. But usually it is just an image recovery job. To be a parent you need to provide stable, coherent care. You can’t pop in with gifts and sweet words to dissapear later. I fight for these children every day, for better and for worse. Everyone deserves a second chance, but not third, fourth, etc. in particulary at the expense of the child. – says Kasia.

Stronger together
Kasia_family_pandemia_masksAssociation was created on the basis of our Thursday breakfests ( a mathaphor connected with  the meetings of Polish intellectuals organized In XVIII century by Polish King Stanisław August Poniatowski, modeled on Parisian literary salons). – We are not writers but 12 witches who needed space and time to share, support each other and understand what being a foster mother means. Finnaly we have 26 memebrs, gather 92 families in Wałbrzych in sourrandings. We need support, we need volunteers, specialists, experts for our kids and for us. We want to be active, to improve and clarify the image of foster family in society. The system needs us, it is obvious every time we get night phonecalls about police and social services interventions and requests to look after someone. There is not enough foster families, there are so many children that need care and love. I would like that our job is appreciated and respected. With other things I will menage having a love of my family. – says Kasia. After this difficult period of pandemia they plan to restart, you can contact Kasia to help and follow association FB page on link.

 

Author: Kamila Wierzbicka

 

Since 2012, it is clear that the number of children placed in institutional foster care is decreasing in Poland. But this process is too slow. According to the regulations, no child under the age of three should be referred to an institution like orphanage/ child care home.

 

About 55% of those serving as a foster family are aged 51-70. In this light, the promotion of foster parenting is of great importance.
In 2018 in Poland, foster care provided care to 71.8 thousand kids. In foster care there are children who are not released from parental rights, because for various reasons it is expected to improve the parental capacity of parents; children who, due to their age and family size (must not separate their siblings), do not have a good chance of adoption.

 

Kasia about herself:

Kasia_foster_motherI’ve always been a Snufkin (a traveller, Moomin’s best friend). I was travelling around the world. First, with scouts I got to know the closest surroundings, later, alone, I ventured into ever more distant and wilder corners of the world. Wałbrzych was my nest, this was where I had a home, I came back here after another trip. I also created here because I’ve been running my own business for a year. A craftsman, an artist – that’s me too …( Brujita – paper handmade). And that’s when fate wrote another script for me – I became a mother. Quite differently than majority of moms.  One March day at my doorstep two girls hurt by life – my nieces. I had 2 weeks to make a decision that changed my whole life … There were no meetings with the psychologist, there were no familiarization visits …There were long conversations with friends and my own heart. Everything said NO: too small flat, cats that do not know children, a newly opened company in which I must get involved as much as possible, willingness to travel, sightsee, plans to go to Spain and the fact that I didn’t want to, I didn’t plan to have children. My whole world has been turned upside down. Revalued. And although the beginnings were not easy, we are going together… we learn together … we learn ourselves and the world. We learn to learn about our emotions and talk about them. We learn to plan the next days. We learn to trust ourselves and believe that tomorrow will also be safe, that when we close our eyes and open them the next morning we’ll still be next to each other … We learn to laugh and have fun and I feel in my heart that it’s GOOD.  There is peace in me that has never been before. There is joy and fulfillment that no trip or trail gave. Puzzle of my life, all previous falls, bends, stones and boulders took on a new meaning – God had a plan for me and finally revealed it. This adventure has been going on for 4 years. My Family has grown by two more girls. Miłosz – my partner and our home hero who supports me – has also joined our women’s gallery. He supports us in our everyday struggles. My life has changed completely. I had to move, change my job – adjust my life to the requirements of children who were entrusted with my care. And these requirements are to make up for health, emotional, school and social neglect. Visits to psychologists, cases in court, a ton of papers in MOPS (social services), current problems that grow like mushrooms after rain. There are times when it is very hard, when I am tired of problems that often overwhelm me, but when I see how “my” children flourish, how they overcome their own fears and barriers, how they gain new skills, how they radiate happiness and a sense of security, I know that my work makes sense that it’s worth it and I would not exchange this life for any other.

Kasia Kowalczyk

 

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