By a FaithBridge foster mom whose identity will remain anonymous for the privacy of her foster children.
Talking about foster care is challenging for me, mostly because I could talk all day and then some to anyone who will listen. I have more than 15 years of stories about foster children, foster families and birth families, many of which could bring a tear to your eye.
I could tell you about the success stories of children that I’ve placed in loving homes for adoption during my years working in child welfare.
I could tell you the stories of birth parents that made necessary changes and who were able to reunify with their children after months or years of struggle.
I could tell you about the children so traumatized by their pasts that I never saw healing happen, even though I prayed for it daily…and still do for some.
I could tell you about my personal call to serve as a foster parent as a single, working person who had never parented before receiving a placement.
I could tell you about putting that call on hold because I thought I needed to have everything in my life perfect before I could serve.
I could tell you how I–eventually–stepped out in faith and started serving as a respite parent and the feelings of fear and uncertainty I experienced during the process and overcoming those.
I could tell you about my journey as a respite parent, providing those much needed breaks for an amazing foster family who took in an elementary school-aged girl and later rearranged their life and home to take in her baby sister, too.
I could tell you about the call asking me if I would consider fostering those same two children because their foster parents were moving out of state and could not take the children with them.
Oh, and by the way, these children are probably not going to be returned to their biological family, so would you consider adopting them, too?
I could tell you about the honeymoon period. That would be a very short story.
I could tell you about the tantrums and the anxiety and the crying and the aggression that occurred while these children coped with the separation from their birth family and while they healed from past trauma.
I could tell you about the birth mother who hugged me and told me “thank you” for raising her children as she said goodbye to them for the last time.
I could tell you about my church family and extended family who have covered me in prayer throughout this journey.
I could tell you how my children have begun to heal and grow throughout their years in foster care but still struggle with the uncertainty of foster care.
I could tell you about any of these things, and maybe someday I will tell the whole story, when it’s finished.
I didn’t realize it then but now know that foster care started out being about me: how I could make a difference, how I could change the world “one child at a time” and how I could provide a loving family for a child.
However, foster care never was and never will be about me. Foster care is about God: His love, His grace and His provision for His children.
The role of a foster parent is not to be the solution to the “problem” of foster care nor is it to provide the perfect home environment that will allow a foster child to heal.
Being a foster parent means allowing God to use you as a vessel of His love and grace. It may mean that your family dinners will never be “normal” again. It may mean that sometimes you have to admit you don’t have the answers. It may mean that sometimes you will feel like you will not be able to go on one more day with the way things are. It may mean having to say good-bye to a little one you love very much. Or it may mean adoption.
Every foster parent and every foster child has a story they could tell you. Some have themes of joy, others of heartbreak…most have some of both.
My foster care story isn’t over. It’s just the beginning.