What a Frozen Pipe Taught Me About Foster Care

A ten-day-long inconvenience got me thinking about what it must be like to live with constant change.

Rebecca Tillou March 20, 2015
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facebook_1426014565074 facebook_1426014622015This past month has brought about much change for me and my family. It has been nuts, and catching my breath has been tough. Two and a half weeks ago, our house had no water due to a frozen main pipe. No water means no flushing of toilets, no washing of little children, and no fresh water to drink or use in cooking. Try explaining that to an almost-three-year-old . . . ended in a meltdown (no pun intended). Now, since I do reside in upstate New York, we did have about 3 feet of snow right outside our door, and boiled some down and poured it into our toilets to be able to flush. I did consider boiling a ton of snow water to bathe our children, but instead my husband and I decided to go to his parents’ for the 10 days we were without water. I am thankful his parents are local. They were incredible and let us stay with them no questions asked. We had to pack for two weeks, and then lived out of suitcases. Everyone felt the change. It stressed my family out, each of us in different ways. I do not know anyone who enjoys change, and even positive change comes with anxiety about the unknown, and what might go wrong.

So, there I was, living out of a suitcase for 10 days. In a house with heat, water, people who love me, and my family. Always a hot meal. We were staying with my in-laws, a family I know we can always turn to when we need a place to go or if we just need a hug. I started thinking about children in foster care. For some of these children, change is a constant and is their “normal.” Living out of suitcases? Some foster children would love to live out of a suitcase for 10 days at a place where people love them, knowing they would soon be going back to a permanent living situation. Some live out of suitcases and consider it their “daily routine.” I realized while I may not like change, I am blessed to have support while going through it.

While my husband and I were struggling with the town over whose pipe was at fault for freezing, I realized how blessed we are. We have a house that we own, a beautiful 100-year-old house. There are responsibilities and drawbacks that come with with that house. Yet, we have a home. I think of those in foster care, and how many of them are concerned and worried about what they will do once they “age out,” which is something that happens around the age they would graduate high school. Many worry about how they will support themselves and what type of living they will be able to afford. Some are concerned about taking care of themselves, learning to go to job interviews, get a job, and manage money. These responsibilities may seem minute to some, but to many who have spent 18 years in and out of homes and struggling to just get through school, these are immense undertakings.

My husband and I have a roof over our heads. We know we have a place to live, a place where our kids will be safe and happy and able to grow up. Yet a pipe freezes and we have no water in the house we own, and we stress. I understand it is normal to stress about events like pipes freezing and having no water. I just think there is always a way to put one’s current situation into perspective.

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Rebecca Tillou

Rebecca was adopted as an infant. She found her birth family in May of 2013 and continues to keep in touch with them. Sadly, her birth mother passed away in 1999. She and her husband live in New York and are the parents of two beautiful little boys, Dominic and Nicolas. They also have a German Shepherd mix named Chester. She was recently diagnosed with FASD at 34 years of age. She is currently working with nofas.org and thearg.org to get the word out that there is hope, and that you are never too old to better yourself.


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