My birthday was Sunday, Sept. 29. I wanted to give myself something really special, and one of a kind. So after 21 months of fostering Lucy, I adopted her, which gives her the label of a foster fail in the fostering world. Although few of my friends and followers were surprised, the decision came with a lot of thought, consideration, and arguments with myself. If you follow me on social media, you know I often tag my posts #HelperNotHoarder, and there’s a reason for that. This post is about why it was a hard decision, and why it also was the right one.
The Job of a Foster
If you foster, your job is to be whatever the foster cat needs you to be at that time. That could be a nurse, caregiver, physical therapist, or in Lucy’s case, just a straight therapist haha. Once my job is done, the cat is ready to move on to the next stage of his/her life. That is how I look at it, and I take it seriously. The less resident cats I have, the more I can help. My goal is not to foster fail and keep them all.
Love & Fostering
So often people say, “I would love them too much. I’d never be able to give them away.”
When I hear this, I understand it, but it’s really a superficial comment. The truth is, I don’t consider it “giving them away,” but instead, finding a home that completes them just as much as they complete it! I love all my fosters like they’re my own, and I’m happy when they are adopted and get to experience love from others.
I was so shocked that after 10.5 months, someone was interested in adopting Lucy. Even after I explained all of her challenges and the adopter met her, she was 100% onboard. She understood Lucy had an abnormally developed brain from neglect and abuse, and would need patience and medication for the rest of her life. She was committed. I felt it could work because she lived alone, had no other pets, and had the calm life that would be ideal for Lucy. I always felt bad for Lucy in my home, because I have other cats (who she hates), so she lives mostly in one room of the house.
Lucy was with the adopter for four days, and I’ll admit, I missed her more than most fosters. I figured it was because I’d had her so long, but I was also really worried about her. I knew change was hard for her (formerly abused animals like predictability – it makes them feel safe), and was concerned that the move would make her sick. When the adopter told me it wasn’t going to work out, I was sad for Lucy, but a part of me felt like she needed to be home with me.
When I picked her up, she looked terrible. Her shiny coat was dull; her pupils were huge; and she was running around the condo breathing heavily and clearly distraught. It took me 45 minutes to get her into the carrier. On the way home, she got car sick from her anxiety (common for her), and it was dried fur with a tiny bit of moisture. She hadn’t eaten that day and barely had any water. She was not in good shape.
It took about 4 days for her to return to normal. I decided to reach out to her behaviorist for next steps. Maybe there was something in my home that made her feel at peace and relaxed.
Many friends, other fosters, and even Lucy’s acupuncturist had been telling me I was Lucy’s person. I felt confronted because it wasn’t my job to just adopt the difficult cats I help. I also couldn’t wrap my head around the thought that Lucy could only be happy with me. There’s nothing about me that I think is more special than anyone else. I believed there was a unicorn adopter out there for Lucy.
I emailed the behaviorist and her assistant, asking if adopting Lucy was the right thing to do. Their responses were both, “Yes.” Given her difficulty with anxiety, they felt it would be really hard to transition her anywhere else. It would likely require an increase in meds, along with multiple visits from a potential adopter (like play dates). Even then, it wasn’t guaranteed to work. Lucy’s behaviorist said, “She is where she is BECAUSE of you.”
That was when it clicked. There is something about me that provides Lucy with comfort, and helps her feel safe. The best home for her is mine.
So, since I always do what’s best for my fosters, I adopted her. She is my 2nd foster fail (Beaky was my 1st).
Yes, a Foster Fail Is OK
Okay, so it’s not my job to adopt my fosters, but in this case, I felt it was the right decision. If you are a foster and decide to adopt one of yours, you really don’t need to explain it to anyone, because people who don’t foster think you should keep them all anyway, and people who foster understand because we fall in love with them all.
My only suggestion is to make the BEST decision for you and the cat. Do not take in an additional animal if you can’t afford it, don’t have the space, or have other valid reasons. That’s not fair to you, or the cat.
So to all the fosters out there, let’s raise a toast to failing every now and then! And also, welcome home Lucy! Now, you’ll forever be my little goose.
What exactly is wrong with Lucy’s brain? Learn all about Impulse Control Aggression in my previous post.