I like control.

I like to choose what’s going to happen, when and how. Yes, yes. More of that, please.

Instead though, I chose to parent. And in parenting, we give up control. Kids are their own little people with their own personalities and preferences. No matter how many books we read or behavior charts we make, we can’t control them.

But I’m realizing, typically parents do still get to control quite a bit. At least for a while.

I never really thought about all that traditional parents get to control. Until I became a foster parent. And wanted to choose my child’s haircut. Her schedule. Her school.

While I might give up that control and let her rock the pink hair anyway, there’s still something to having that choice. To having control.

Instead, foster care is like co-parenting with a dozen adults. Case managers, lawyers, therapists, and of course, biological parents. Together, as a team, we decide. Everything from family visits and travel plans to extracurricular activities and tutoring help.

Which nearly always turns out just fine. But in the in between, in the deciding and debating, out crawls my anxious, grasping-for-control side.

Because I have my very own idea of what should be done. And somehow not everyone else seems on board. Despite their decades of experience and social work degrees and equally valuable perspectives, I feel exasperated.

Until I pause. And the kind child therapist gently pulls me aside and reminds me, “You don’t have control.”

And I look around the room and remember. I don’t. I don’t have control while these precious children are in my care, and I won’t have control when they go back home.

But that can’t keep me from choosing how and when and where and why I will love them while they’re here.

Only I can control that.

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