The two-year-old girls currently living in our home are the exact same height with blonde hair and only a 0.2 pound difference in their weight. I'm a biological mom to one and a foster mom to the other. They're five months apart, and there has not been a day that I've gone into public with them when I've not been asked by a random stranger (if not 3-4 random strangers), "Are they twins?"
Usually, I politely smile and say, "No they're not," and the little girls continue stuffing their faces while I continue stuffing the grocery cart. My brief answer suffices most people's curiosity, but not everyone's.
"Well how old are they? Oh, they're both two and they're not twins? Wow, how did that happen?"
I shocked myself recently when the lady behind me in Target struck up a similar conversation. Politely but firmly, I responded, "It really isn't any of your business."
My face immediately grew hot, and my ears turned red. My heart was pounding as I wondered if I had said the right thing and if I should apologize for being rude. Rarely ever am I quite so forthcoming.
I continued to think about my answer throughout the rest of the day and came to the conclusion that although I could have been more tactful, yes, I had responded correctly.
K's story is not mine to tell.
To my close friends and family members, I can tell how her story affects me. To her caregivers and educators, I can share pieces of her background that are pertinent to her care and education. To the random lady at Target, you are a random lady at Target. And however nice and caring you may be, my foster daughter's classification as a foster child is not your business.
She just started saying her name, but only when asked in a particular way. We're working on expanding her language, but for now, we ask K, "Who are you?" Not surprisingly, her answer is always "K" instead of "Foster Kid". "Foster Kid" may be part of her story, but it is not who she is. Though she has faced many difficulties in her short life, K is resilient, beautiful, and gentle. She isn't a "poor child" or a reason to "bless your heart," common connotations that "foster care" carries with it. K can't speak for herself, but I guarantee that she wants people to see her for exactly the person that she is and not for the situation from which she has come. Nobody likes to be pitied.
As her guardian, my job is to protect K. At this moment, that means letting her share as much or as little of her story as she wants, if and when she feels ready.
I'm not sure how many more foster children we will have in our home over the next few months and years, but I do know that it will be my job to protect those kids, as well. They'll all come with their own stories, and whether they are 2 or 12, whether they can speak or not, they'll decide when to tell them.
For today, I'm just thankful that my story intersects with K's at this point in both of our lives. Though the endings of them are unknown, the Author of our stories is kind. For today, that is all anyone needs to know.