By Rachel Eubank
You can find more articles by Rachel at Normalizing Foster Care.
I have 11 permanent siblings and have had over 150 foster siblings through the years. With a family like that, we always got a lot of questions:
Are they all yours? Do you run a daycare? Whose kids are these anyway?
Before my parents met, they had previous marriages and children. When their families blended, they already had five children between them but even then, they knew that they wanted more. With my father having been in foster care his whole life and my mother being interested in fostering because of the influence of a favorite Aunt, becoming foster parents was almost pre-determined for them. They began fostering in 1975, shortly after they were married and three years before I was born.
I am the only biological child between my parents. I have 5 older half siblings from their previous marriage and 6 more siblings who were adopted throughout my parent’s foster care journey. As I was growing up, I always felt like my position in the family was a special one; I was an only child in a very large and diverse family.
There was not a time in my life that has not been touched by foster care. My parents fostered as they raised their biological families and continued to foster children in the Detroit area for a total of 35 years. A revolving door of siblings and social workers was completely normal and expected in our home. My Dad worked outside the home and for most of those years, my Mom worked in the home taking care of all of us.
Our house was always full, always loud, and always busy. You never knew who was going to be at the dinner table when you got there. One night I had a friend over for dinner with the family. When my Dad got to the table after working for the day he walked by, patted my friend on the head with welcoming smile, and sat down to eat with us. After dinner he asked her if she had any pajamas with her and she said she didn’t.
“Go get her some of yours, Rachel,” my Dad said to me.
“Dad, are you sure?” I answered.
“Rachel, you know that we share everything we have, no matter what, please go get her a pair of pajamas and get ready for bed.”
I did what my Dad asked me to do and my friend got all settled in for the night. When my Dad stopped in to tuck us in and say goodnight, I hopped up and gave him a huge hug and said, “Thank you so much for letting my friend sleep over on a school night!!” From that night on, he always checked to see which kids were supposed to stay and which were supposed to go home after dinner!
Meals at our home were filled with laughter and not a small amount of chaos. My parents were playful so they often found a way to make meal time fun. We piled muffins wrappers on my Dads plate at the end of the meal and teased him for eating to much or played telephone with our empty milk cups. My parents often tell the story of when my sister wanted to play telephone but forgot to drink her milk first! Spilled milk and messes were normal for this many kids and it quickly became a favorite story to tell for years.
Just like every other family we have had ups and downs. Some of the kids that lived with us stole our hearts and broke them into pieces when they left. Some of them brought relief when it was time for them to move on. Foster care and caring for others has been woven into the fabric of our family since its very beginning and I wouldn’t have wanted to be raised any other way. Our lives may have been more chaotic than others, but our lives were normal and have been well lived.
Without foster care I would not have 6 of my precious siblings. I would not have the diversity in cultures and lifestyles and opinions in my family that I have now. Without foster care my life might have been more like what others would consider normal, but without foster care, it would have been less.
Rachel Eubank is a guest on this week’s Positive Adoption Podcast. Watch for it tomorrow!
Check out her website here.