Sunday, March 7, 2010

I Could NEVER Do Foster Care!

Three of the most common things I hear from people when they learn we are foster parents are:

1) I Could Never Do Foster Care!

2) Isn't it hard to have to say goodbye to your foster children after becoming attached?

and

3) WHY did You Decide to do Foster Care- Was it in the Hopes of Adopting?

This post is dedicated to anyone who has brought up any of these questions.

I Could Never Do Foster Care

I don't think it's so much a question of not being able to do it as it is of having the desire to do it, and more specifically, the reasons WHY somebody would want to do it.

I used to think that I could never be able to do foster care, either. I'm much too tender-hearted and the thought of dealing with reunifications seemed too painful for me to bear . . . which leads me to the second most asked question:

Isn't it hard to have to say goodbye to a child after become attached?

Yes, it is hard. But despite the heartache of having to say goodbye WE HAVE LIVED THROUGH IT!

In fact, when we were going through the initial training to become licensed our trainer said, "After your first placement leaves your home you may feel like your heart is being ripped out- but you need to remember that the pain you feel is just a measure of how much you have cared. If it doesn't hurt when they leave, then you haven't done your job"


I think that the bottom line of doing foster care is that you must be willing to put your desires and feelings on the back burner and turn your focus to the needs and feelings of a child. If someone is not willing to do that, then I would strongly encourage them to re-examine their motives for doing foster care in the first place.

Because I'm only human, I've been guilty of losing that focus [on the child and what is best for the child] and have ended up feeling unappreciated or resentful at times of how "the system" works. On occasion I've even caught myself throwing my hands into the air in frustration and asking, "Now WHY did we decide to do foster care in the first place?"

Which inevitably leads me to the next most common question/assumption:

Why did you decide to do foster care . . . Is it so that you can adopt?

To answer this question in one sentence I'll tell you: We became foster parents because we "felt" like we were supposed to. It wasn't a question of logic or convenience, but out of blind faith.

I first started having strong feelings about doing foster care when we had been married for about four years. At that point in time we had wanted children but didn't have any, so I'll admit that in the back of my mind I was hoping that these promptings would result in an adoption- it just made sense: we were a childless couple and we were getting strong messages about doing foster care.

However . . . one thing I've learned about how inspiration works in my life is that I am seldom given all of the reasons or explanations for WHY God wants me to do something all at once. Instead I find myself speculating, over-analyzing and sometimes even second-guessing these promptings when I should be listening, trusting and OBEYING!

I wish I could say that we followed those promptings right away, but the truth is that we kept putting them off and coming up with excuses of why foster care was too hard, too weird (unconventional is probably a less offensive word to use), too illogical, etc.

I also wish that I could tell you that our decision to do foster care has resulted in the adoption of a child through the foster care system, but it hasn't. We have fostered six children and all of them have returned to their parents or relative's care.

When people learn that we haven't been able to adopt any of our foster placements many feel sorry for us or think "What a waste of time!" But perhaps those same people don't fully understand that we have been blessed by doing what God has asked of us regardless of the end result. Fostering children has helped us to develop greater patience, love, and selflessness. We've been blessed to have children in our home as part of our family, even if it is just on a temporary basis.

Aside from the blessings fostering has brought into our lives, our experiences have helped us to re-learn that life isn't always about US or having OUR NEEDS and DESIRES met, but it's about REACHING OUT TO OTHERS, in this case the children.

Consider this pertinent statement from a fellow foster mother about her decision to do foster care and her source of strength through it all.
"Sometimes (actually often) if we are listening, God asks us to do things that are hard. He asks us to do things that hurt. He asks us to take risks for His kingdom. He asks us to be used in ways that don't make sense to the world, so that the only explanation is Him . . . It is God's strength, and His love he has put into our hearts for these kids, that keeps us refreshed."

 Amen. So beautifully put.

11 comments:

Sheyann said...

:) I swear this was a conversation between my husband and me. We have all of our paperwork in with the state and as soon as my hubby finishes school (and I don't have to work anymore), we're going to do foster care. It has taken us 7 years to finally decide for many of the concerns you wrote about. And for the same reasons also, we decided as soon as possible, we will. :)
P.S. You write so beautifully! :)

Maggie said...

Love your post! And thanks for the shout out! It's good to know that there's another foster mom who doesn't have a heart of stone! ;)

LeMira said...

Thank you for this post. We have been thinking more and more about foster care, but the biggest reason I have decided NOT to do it is because of my little boy. I'm really concerned about how it will affect him. He's been an only child for six years with some issues that have needed my constant attention, and I worry that foster care will be harder on him than us at this stage in his life. I'm not shutting it out completely, though, because one day when he is old enough to comprehend it, I think we may actually dive in and be foster parents.

Mom Forever said...

We struggled with becoming foster parents for many of the same reasons you mentioned. I finally realized that if we didn't do things because of the possibility of heartbreak then we would miss out on some beautiful things. We were very fortunate to adopt our first placements and we now have a beautiful foster daughter. We've had her for a year tomorrow and it would tear me apart if she returns home but I wouldn't give up the experience of having her for anything. I have learned so much from her and have grown in so many ways. And I've loved and been loved by her immeasurably. Sometimes we have to take a step into the dark before we see the light.

Penelope said...

Thanks for a beautiful post! I still miss my Blondie that was only with us for 3 months and has been gone a year and a half. I pray for her every day...

Alison said...

My husband and I had our first baby placed with us 2 weeks ago and it has already been an amazing experience. We field these questions almost daily from friends, family, and co-workers. It's nice to see someone else answer them for once! :) We have been married about a year and a half and we plan to start having our own children too (biologically), but we just felt very called to do foster care. I hope to do it for many years and maybe even adopt one or two along the way! :)

Melissa said...

Beautiful post! Yep, It's all in His time... after 7 kiddos in 3 years we know that all too well. It's still a blessing to be small part of their bigger journey. :)

Sunday Koffron said...

I loved this post! Touching the heart of a child is NEVER a waste of time...you may never know the exact impact you have had on that child...but believe me, i am here to say you have made a great difference in the life of each child you have touched.

Denise said...

I love the quote at the bottom of your post.

I agree wholeheartedly with your post.

It is beautiful!!

Rachel Beran said...

This was so good. Thank you for sharing so openly. As we venture into this journey ourselves, it was very insightful and encouraging.

Cathy said...

I feel like the babies I have cared for know me. Someday our spirits in heaven will recognize each other, and it will be a great reunion.