When we started fostering (for the second time after taking a break for a couple of years) we sat down and talked about it. As a family. At least I thought we did.

I really thought we’d decided to do this thing together. A family service kind of thing like the time we went to Mexico to build a school, where we were all participants in the success of it. I thought I was clear about the whole I-can’t-do-this-on-my-own and I-don’t-want-you-to-feel-neglected and I-really-want-this-to-be-something-in-which-we-share.

Turns out it wasn’t like that at all.

Turns out I’d spent too much time talking and not enough time listening, and the kids were feeling some things about it all that I hadn’t realized.

So we all talked again, and their dad and I talked and then we all talked some more. And this is what we came up with.

We are going to pay our boys to be good foster brothers.

Let me explain.

As a foster mom I get a cheque every month. Not a great big cheque, but a cheque all the same. It’s allocated out into care items for the child (food, clothing, etc.) but boiling it all down, you could say I get paid to take care of this child in my home, and I’ve decided to share. Each month the boys will get a portion of the cheque that I receive.

Here’s what I hope.

I hope the children will feel like they are part of the family team. I hope they will better understand how much I value their efforts. I hope they will feel a responsibility toward the successfulness of this fostering thing that maybe they didn’t feel before. I hope they will feel a sense of personal investment in what I believe is a ministry.

I also hope that by sharing the money I receive they will understand that the money is not the reason I am in the game.

This is new for us. We have rarely paid our boys to do anything. They do chores and such just because they are part of the family. We don’t do allowances. We don’t do checklists and treats. We’ve simply expected our kids to do the things they’ve been asked to do, and they have.

It’s an experiment, but I already feel like there is a better feeling about the home… a greater sense of mutual responsibility to contribute and a feeling of equality and partnership that perhaps wasn’t there before.

We’ll see how it goes.