I was very touched after a friend recently directed me to a post written by a foster mother appropriately titled "Love is Not Wasted".
Here's an excerpt:
"When I talk to people about being a foster mom, I feel their resistance to loving one of these temporary kids. While we know the truth that as we add more children to our family our love isn’t divided, we have a hard time imagining sharing the love of our family with someone else’s child. If we’re honest, we may even feel that love would be wasted. When we open ourselves up to love, we open ourselves up to pain. This is always true, but that pain feels more like a forgone conclusion when we sign up to love a temporary child. Like pulling our hand away from a hot stovetop, we recoil from that pain even though we know it is good to love. Which is why the emotions of love aren’t enough.
As we experience in marriage, love is a commitment. It isn’t always about what feels good or easy. It perseveres, hopes, and trusts even when times are hard. Especially when times are hard. That’s when the emotions run out and foster mom love looks like changing diapers and sleepless nights and going to meetings and dealing with unpredictable court decisions and teaching someone to eat their broccoli who has never seen a green vegetable before. It short, it looks like being the hands and feet of Jesus to a hurting child, a family in crisis, a broken system. Foster moms aren’t magical. We don’t have unbreakable hearts or a different kind of love that protects us from pain. We love and grieve and then love again. We do it because we know that love is not divided. Love is not wasted."
And I found myself nodding my head in agreement at MANY of the points brought up in this essay, "What Foster Parents Wish Other People Knew". A few of the suggestions which I felt were so helpful (not necessarily because they're things I wish "others" knew, but because not judging/loving the parents of my foster children has been one of the things I've personally struggled with) were listed under "#4- Don't hate on their parents":
"Abusive and neglectful parents often love their kids and do the best they can, and a lot of them CAN do better if they get help and support, which is what part of this is about . . . birth parents are just people with big problems. Birth and Foster parents often work really hard to have positive relationships with each other"
And the explanation under #7 -When you say "I could never do that . . . " bears repeating:
"Letting kids go IS really hard, but someone has to do it. Not all kids in care come from irredeemable families. Not everyone in a birth family is bad – in fact, many kin and parents are heroic, making unimaginable sacrifices to get their families back together through impossible odds. Yes, it is hard to let kids we love go, and yes, we love them, and yes, it hurts like hell, but the reality is that because something is hard doesn’t make it bad, and you aren’t heartless if you can endure pain for the greater good of your children. You are just a regular old parent when you put your children’s interests ahead of your own."