There are common reactions I hear when I tell people that I’m a foster parent.
“Wow, I could never do that.”
“It takes a special person to do that.”
“That just seems like a lot.”
“I just couldn’t put myself (or my family) through that.”
“I wouldn’t be able to say ‘goodbye’ to the kids if they ever left.”
Sure, there is truth in these statements, but there are also excuses, misunderstanding, and selfishness.
I do not believe that everyone should be a foster parent. So please hear that. I am not here to guilt anyone into being a foster parent, but I would like to clear up a few things.
For people that say they could never do it - that may be true, but it also may not be. Yes, it sounds hard and it sounds like “a lot” but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it.
One of my favorite people, Kati Thompson, has a family motto: “Love God, love people, do hard things”. It is SO good.
Somewhere along the way our culture has decided to worship convenience and ooey gooey feelings so much that we have become repulsed at the idea of doing something that is difficult.
I didn’t sign up to be a foster parent because I thought it would be easy and enjoyable. I signed up to be a foster parent because I am willing and capable. I have a heart to help kids who need a home. I have a home with empty beds. I have people who I share my home with who are on board with the whole foster care thing. My husband and children love welcoming new kids into our home.
Just because we love it doesn’t mean that it’s always a positive experience. But the challenges do not automatically put it in a category of “bad” or “to be avoided”.
Pushing myself to love someone beyond my flesh and blood is not easy. It is exhausting and difficult, but it is worth it. Just because a foster care placement challenges me does not mean that it is an unhealthy choice for me or my family. Are there situations that are unhealthy? Absolutely. But the presence of challenge does not automatically mean that it is bad for everyone involved.
When people have made comments to me about a potential placement being “too much” or “more than we can handle”, it makes me laugh. Exactly what quantity of foster children is not “too much”? What life experiences and trauma is acceptable and manageable? What diagnoses are not jaw-dropping or heartbreaking?
I have realized that foster care fits right into the people pleasing category of my brain. Nothing I do will please everyone always. There is not a placement I could take that would make someone say “Yeah that seems like a reasonable decision that will not have any effect on your life or family”. It’s just not going to happen. It doesn’t make sense because it was never supposed to be this way. Families are meant to stay together, but unfortunately, that’s not always the reality.
People make judgments all the time, everyday. It’s just what we do. But I will be damned if I am going to let those judgments and shocked reactions sway my decision to take in children who need a home and some love.
I hope that I always “love God, love people, and do hard things”. And I hope, soon, that foster care is one of those hard things. We haven’t had a placement in 11 months - a much-needed break. But I think we are all getting ready, in one way or another, for whoever God has next for our family. And we will welcome them with arms wide open, pride pushed to the floor, and a community of support, prayer and resources.