People Are People

I wrote this post a few weeks ago for another site who passed on publishing it.


The most surprising part of being a foster family is how much it shows people are just people. Liberal, conservative, pro-life, pro-choice, apathetic: half have been helpful and kind and half have been horrible and embarrassing with no rhyme or reason as to who will be who.

I know in the news the liberals are rejoicing about what a terrible human being Josh Duggar is as the conservatives rejoice at the cynicism of Planned Parenthood, and the one upmanship of catching someone on the other side being a hypocrite is continues forever and forever. Amen. However, real life it’s just not like that.

As a liberal, I understand the joy in catching a conservative doing something immoral. Even as a Christian, because I take liberal stands, which I even believe are the more moral stands, the conservative version just seems to more easily wear the cloak of morality. And to see it pulled off makes me want to rejoice, too. Perhaps conservatives feel the same way about liberals always helping the poor and caring about the oppressed. But if I’m honest with myself, I know wonderful conservatives and terrible conservatives just as I know wonderful liberals and terrible liberals.

In my daily existence, when a person has offered some reprieve to the endless court dates and meetings and therapies and whatever else an individual child may need, I could not describe that person. I could not predict based on a person’s moral or political proclivities who would stand up and offer hands and hugs and help and who would engage in mortifying behaviors forcing me to stand up for my family and my children in ways I should never have to do.

And based on my conversations with other foster families, our experience is not unique. Some foster families attend church and their churches stood up and helped and some attend church and their churches stood up and walked out on them. Some had no interest in church and God and had many family and friends supporting them who felt the same about religion while others were shunned by their liberal neighbors for helping a child. Or if they weren’t looked down upon, their children were. Their children were treated as problems instead of as victims of circumstance. Instead of truly hearing stories of children and birth families and letting their hearts break to the horrors that the majority of conservative and liberal people will never encounter beyond a news story, these people chose to see money and opportunity and vulnerability believing their words and actions are okay because “it’s just a foster kid.”

The gifts of fostering has been manifold; however, living through the truth that people are just people whether they hate Planned Parenthood or hate FOX News, has been unexpected. Yes, these choices matter in elections and those elected make laws and those laws affect all of us, but in the day-to-day lives of families — whether united by blood or by their hearts — a kindness offered can transcend all of it.

These people, who have stepped up and in and allowed us to continue to be the best foster family we can be, give me hope. Hope that the lines which divide us are less important than what makes us good neighbors, good friends, and finally, what makes us a family.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

6 thoughts to “People Are People”

  1. I needed to read this today. I needed to be reminded kindness transcends political or religious lines. Silly as it is, I committed the ultimate sin and read the comments on a recent PB&J post. I got halfway through before losing heart. When did we become a society where “personal responsibility” trumps compassion?

    I have to believe in kindness. And compassion. And empathy. I suppose the only thing to do is practice it myself and teach my children and hope others are doing the same.

  2. As a foster care social worker, I’ve definitely witnessed the horrific shame some people put on foster children, foster parents, and (especially) birth parents. I’ve also seen the flip side, and it’s so nice to have that restoration of humanity. Having an inside look at a corrupted system, I can say that it’s foster families like you who see a hurting child as a victim, not as a “problem” or “annoyance,” that give me hope and allow me to come to work and be passionate about it. I’m glad that you have people in your life who can give you hope through the insanity of foster care…it’s definitely a wild ride.

  3. As usual, you cut through the murk and speak straight to my heart.
    You have long been someone whom I admire and never more so now that you have been fostering.

    There is so much love here. Enough to bridge the gap.
    Let’s hope that in this next year, more of us can come together than be driven apart.

    I know. It’s a longshot.
    But worth taking.

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