I love being a foster parent. It’s been the wildest craziest ride that I have ever been on, and to be honest if I had really understood what being a foster parent was all about I don’t know if I would have signed up. It’s hard to describe the uncertainty that comes with being a foster parent, as well as the upheaval that the constant visits with birth families, case workers, law guardians, CASA and GAL workers, state doctors and nurses….the list goes on.
When we share about our foster adventures we get a lot of questions – some good and some not so good. Many are asked out of curiosity and when I can share information I generally do. However, that isn’t always the case. Part of being a foster parent is knowing what info can be shared, and when you need to hold your tongue.
If you are talking to a foster parent, here are some things we don’t want to hear:
“That baby/child is so blessed to have you.” Nope -we are the lucky ones.
“I hope they know how lucky they are.” Lucky? They were ripped from their family due to circumstances outside their control, driven to a stranger’s house and dropped off. No child should ever have to go through that.
“Where are their real parents?” First, if I’m caring for these children then I am their *real* parent while they are in my home. Second, that isn’t something that I’m going to share.
“What is he/she?” I seriously have issues with this one. The he/she in question is a CHILD, loved by God and by me. When I get asked this question I get a little snippy.
“What race are they?” Ugh. Another favorite. It doesn’t matter people. Remember the song? Red and Yellow, Black and White, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.
“Can their Birth Parents get them back?” I don’t know – and I don’t want to think about it, because the thought of them leaving tears me up – even if it is in the child’s best interests.
“Why were they removed?” Not going to share that, so don’t even ask.
“Is that the same baby? Or did you get another one?” Ummm…it’s the same child. They grow fast.
“I knew of a foster child that…..” If the story isn’t helpful or joyful, I don’t want to hear it.
“Can you keep him/her?” That depends on the case, the court and the judge. We always hope for the best fit for the child.
“What’s wrong with him/her?” A foster child, even one removed at a young age has more issues than a child in a healthy home. They are more likely to be labeled with ADD, ADHD, PTSD and a host of other acronyms. There isn’t anything *wrong* with them, they just need more and care and trust which takes time to build.
“How do your real children feel about you fostering?” Our biological and adopted children love fostering and understand that not all adults can parent, which is when we step into the gap. Every child that lives in our home becomes our *real* child – there aren’t any fake children.
“How much money do you make?” We don’t make money providing foster care. Yes, we get paid a stipend to care for the child, but that money should be used for clothing, shoes, food, diapers, toys and extras. Believe me, you can’t make money being a foster parent.
“Is it hard being a foster parent?” Yes, it’s hard! But it’s hard to be a parent to our biological and adopted children too. There are days when we want to give up and be done with case workers and lawyers and judges and bio parents, but in the center of it all are children who need someone to fight for them.
“I could never do it – I get too attached.” Giving a child the ability to attach is vital! Children who attach to a caregiver have a much easier time forming bonds and boundaries later in life. Our job is to meet these children’s needs, to love them, to form trust and attachment – so that if they are returned to family they have the ability to attach/bond with that family. And yes, I cry when a child leaves us, because we are attached to them too.
“I love kids too much to get involved.” If you love kids, then GET INVOLVED. Volunteer at a shelter, become a big sister/big brother, ask if your local office needs help. Become a GAL or CASA. Adopt a foster family. There are many ways you can get involved without becoming a foster parent.
If you are thinking about foster care, whether it’s being a foster home or adopting one or more of the thousands of children legally free for adoption in the USA please reach out to your local DYFS office and inquire. We NEED good foster homes and those children who are aging out of the system without a home NEED a home.