One thing that not everyone may know about foster care/foster parenting is that the children are able to receive WIC benefits. So for the first several months, “Z’s” formula was covered and now additionally his baby foods are covered (jars of fruits and veggies plus infant rice and oatmeal). There are so many things through this process that open our eyes to the ways of the various systems of our government. We have never been on food stamps before but there was a time that Craig lost his job and while seeking a more permanent job, we were without healthcare insurance and the kids and I received Medicaid. I became one of “those people” that people make judgmental statements about on facebook and out in public. You know, “lazy people, who won’t get off their butts and work and want the rest of us to take care of them” kind of comments. Well my husband was working full time. I was working part time as a pastor (which talk to any pastor and there really isn’t such a thing) and going to school full time (and raising 3 kids) yes, definitely the picture of laziness (insert sarcastic snort). The ways in which we were treated in doctor’s offices changed. Then of course, if people heard our story they would say, “Oh, but you are the exception; most of “them” take advantage of the system.” Now let me be clear, there are people who take advantage of “the system” AND the system is not perfect but still, “those” people have stories and some you may be surprised to know. During that time, my eyes were opened.
So here we are in another situation, receiving these benefits for our foster child. Yes we receive looks, especially when they see our other children (after all why do we keep producing if we can’t afford them…oh sorry, my bitterness is coming out again, I digress…). Well there have been two incidents that have stood out to me. First a couple of months ago, we went to buy formula and found that the price of formula had gone up so our WIC coupon that should cover 4 cans of formula, only covered 3. There was only a few cents difference, but we were not allowed to pay it; it either had to cover the whole amount or you receive less. Now for our family, we could afford to buy the other can of formula, however, for so many, that (expensive!!) can of formula may have had to stay on the shelf. I imagine there were babies that had less bottles offered or more diluted ones, so their families could stretch their last can of formula until the next set of coupons went into effect. Now today, we went to buy little “Z” some baby food. We are really branching out as he has tried other things and I think his tummy is finally getting the hang of eating J. We are allowed to pick out jars of Gerber or Beach Nut baby food. HOWEVER, as we branched out today we learned, he cannot have Mangos. I researched more and found he can’t have guava or papaya either. I’m not sure why this is bothering me so much. I can definitely feed him some mango or papaya, etc. I used to make my own baby food for the other kids and am not doing this as much with him just because of being busier. But somehow, knowing that he cannot have a jar of fruit that costs the same as another jar of fruit BOTHERS me! It bothers me, that these “tropical” fruits are somehow too good for those who are needing assistance?? It bothers me not so much for “Z” but for others. It just seems like it is one more way that we separate the “haves” and the “have nots.”
During this Advent season while we are called to wait and hope. I pray for the day that we can have less separation between classes of people. That not only can everyone have mangos J but that all people could see each other through the eyes of God: as God’s beloved sons and daughters. May we all examine our hearts and seek to make them more in line with our Creator.