February 4th, 2022
My wife and I have been the primary caregivers for our 14-month-old grandson, Asher, for an entire year. February 2nd was the anniversary date. I’m not sure that this is a reason for celebration. It is simply a fact.
It has been an exciting year. Becoming Asher’s kinship caregivers, and later his foster parents, has changed our lives significantly. Karin and I used to look for things to do. That is no longer the case. We always have something to do.
In think that we have learned a lot during the last twelve months. I know that I have. Raising a small child at our age is an exercise of both discovery and of recollection. With Asher some things are strange and new. Other things feel very familiar. It is rare that a person gets to be a “new parent” twice in life, however Karin and I having that experience.
So, what have we learned?
First, we have learned that Asher is not our child. We are not his father and mother, although in many ways we act in the role of parents. We are only Asher’s caregivers. The goal is for Asher to one day be completely reunited with his mother. Asher and his mother have a strong bond, and the boy definitely knows who his mama is. Asher does not know his father, and I doubt that he ever will. Karin and I are not Asher’s parents. We do not have that kind of relationship, and we don’t want it. We are only his grandparents, although in a much closer way than is common in most families. We will be deeply involved with Asher’s life until we die. That is for certain.
We have learned that Asher is constantly growing and developing. Every morning when he wakes up, he is a slightly different child. Asher is a moving target. Karin and I have to constantly change with him. Every day his capabilities improve. Every day his needs are altered. He is teething now. He is starting to walk on his own. He can play with the dogs. He wants a variety of foods. Each day I meet a new little boy is named Asher.
We have learned how intrusive the government can be. For better or worse, the state of Wisconsin has taken an active interest in Asher’s welfare. That is probably a good thing. However, this has made our lives more complicated. Karin and I have to follow specific guidelines for raising Asher, and we have people checking up on us. There is a bureaucracy involved, and it inhibits some of our choices. For instance, Karin and I cannot travel wherever we want to go, unless we get permission from Asher’s case manager. Currently, it is nearly impossible for us to visit our other grandchildren in Texas. If a person wants to keep their personal freedoms and maintain their privacy, they should never become a foster parent.
Karin and I have learned to work as a team, more than we have ever done before in our thirty-seven years of marriage. We have been forced to work together more closely in order to properly care for the little guy. We have become less selfish out of pure necessity. This is a good development. Love does not have much to do with feelings. It has everything to do with actions. In our love for Asher, we have learned to love each other more.
We have learned that Asher is a pure blessing in our lives. Sure, the little boy is a lot of work, but he has brought an enormous amount of joy into our lives. Asher has given us purpose. Sometimes, retirees flounder about in their new state of life. They wonder what to make of all their time. We never wonder what to do. We don’t even think about it. We just do.
Thank God for Asher.