I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the most common thing I hear as a foster parent is some version of, “I could never do that!” or “I would get too attached and just adopt them all.”
For the first few months of foster care I was bitter about hearing these comments and wanted to respond with sass about how I DO have a heart and I get attached too. I’ve let go of that bitterness these days, because I’m learning that people actually don’t think they can do this (as opposed to them just saying it). And it scares me because we NEED foster parents. So here’s the thing… You can do this. Want to know how I know? Because in the short time we’ve been fostering I’ve learned the following:
1. We are so much stronger than we realize. I never knew my strength. In fact, I’ve always considered myself somewhat weak.. fragile, emotional, ready to fall apart at any moment. Dealing with anxiety for big parts of your life can do that to you. But guys, I am STRONG. So much stronger than I ever thought.. I’ve taken more risks in the last 6 months than ever before. And it MATTERS. So believe you can do it. Because you can. I realize I sound like a wanna be motivational speaker, but it’s the truth. I’ve spoken these words to my students the past two years, but never really practiced what I’ve preached. This year has been a game changer for sure.
2. You’ll be making a difference, and that will be encouraging enough to keep you going. I can’t tell you how cool it is to think about how many stories we will be a part of through foster care. Whether it was a difficult situation or one that ended happily, we played a role in some way or another. To think of the lives we (hopefully) touched in some way and the ripple effect it may have in the future.. It’s a pretty cool feeling.
3. There are worse things than goodbye. Now I know we haven’t had a foster for years and had to say goodbye. I know we haven’t experienced that feeling yet.. but I’m pretty confident that after healing and grieving I will feel the same way I do now. I still cry about little love. I still miss sweet pea. It’s still hard to think about. But let’s think about the bigger picture: these kids are (in most cases) going home or to family members that have stepped up to care for them. Yes, sometimes the system is broken and you cringe thinking about these kids going back to certain situations, but I have to (and truly do) believe that God has each one of these kiddos in His hand and that they end up exactly where they are supposed to be. When I think about how sad I am about our goodbyes, I remind myself: it could be worse. This is going to sound morbid, but it’s something I think about a lot: people die every day. Husbands lose their wives. Parents lose their children. Friends, brothers, sisters.. every day something tragic happens. And most people find a way to heal and move on. While yes, most foster children have gone through something traumatic, I still can’t help but feel a little relieved that at least when I’ve said goodbye I know they are going to someone who is fighting for them. If someone can heal from losing a loved one.. I can certainly heal from saying goodbye to a child that I may still see in the future.
4. You will meet the most incredible people. Foster care is a community. It’s a support system. It’s people that are passionate and genuine about fighting for children to get what they need. They will be there for you! When you need to vent, when you need to cry, when you need to ask a million questions because you’re a new parent.. They’ll be there. Even at first, when they barely know you. It’s something really special. Just the other day I had a foster parent reach out about joining together for my dream of a foster care closet. How cool is that? The people will help you through.
5. And last.. But really the only one that matters, the one that makes the other four possible: Jesus. Jesus has got this. And if you’re called to foster care.. go for it. People tell me all the time that we’re amazing. I can’t say it enough: we’re not. We are just trudging through what we feel called to. Just like someone that feels called to missions, or someone that feels called to be a police officer, or someone that feels called to be a stay at home mom. The thing is, I know deep down that all I need is Jesus. I like to think that if I was stripped of everything in this world I love, that I would still be okay. Because of Jesus. He is the only reason we can handle foster care. And He has given us everything I’ve mentioned above.
So please.. don’t think you could never do it. I’m not saying that everyone is called to it – not at all! But don’t shut the door on something amazing. You never know what God is up to 😉