5 Things Foster Parents Wish You Knew
- I’m not a saint! I don’t do this because I have a heart of gold or more patience than the average person (trust me on this one!!). I’m human and I make mistakes – and I don’t have ANY special qualities that make me “good enough” or “strong enough” to foster.
- Reunification is the goal of foster care. Most of us got into fostering because we believe in helping families stay together. We almost always support reunification. And if we don’t, we really can’t talk about it
- We don’t do this for the money! Yes, we get a small stipend for the children in our care. Emphasis on small. It varies by area and agency, but I can almost guarantee, it’s less than your child support. A lot less. If you do it right, foster parenting is like owning a boat – instead of a hole in the water you throw money into, fostering is a hole in the minivan you throw money into. (I wish I was exaggerating)
- We don’t know how long we’ll keep them. Really, we don’t. We’re not trying to be coy – it’s not up to us. There are 5,000 variables, and almost as many opinions – the least important of which is ours.
- You don’t have to be a foster parent to make a difference. Not everyone can foster. Not everyone SHOULD foster. There are numerous other ways to help out foster kids and/or foster parents.
- Become a Guardian ad Litem or CASA – these court-appointed volunteers are the voices of our kids – the good ones are worth their weight in gold & there are never enough of them.
- Offer free babysitting – this may involve getting finger-printed and background-checked. Find out what it takes and do it.
- Be a safe place to land – and be consistent about it – even when it’s inconvenient. Offer an advice- & opinion-free zone. Give us a place to vent/cry/scream/get drunk without piling negativity on top of what we’re already feeling.
BONUS: We do get attached! If ever your heart doesn’t break when a child leaves your home, you’re doing it wrong! The length and depth of the grief is different for every single placement, but it hurts when they leave – even when you also feel a little relieved. At the end of the day (everyday), we continue to volunteer for this heartbreak (and the frustrations) because it’s not about us!! No child chooses to be a foster child, but EVERY child deserves to know unconditional love and unquestioned safety.
I’m willing to grieve if it means another child has known unrestrained love. For however long they’re mine, they get All of Me.
#AdoptionTalk Link Up
This week’s topic: Anything Goes