Foster parenting isn’t for everyone. It’s hard. And frustrating. And heart-breaking. And frequently thankless. It’s also wonderful and humbling and immensely rewarding. If it isn’t for you, that’s okay. Please don’t feel like you have to justify that to me.
Not everyone can foster – not everyone SHOULD foster. If you don’t feel like you can take in someone else’s child and love them like your own until it’s time for them to leave, please don’t sign up for foster care. If you only want to adopt because you don’t get enough validation from your cat, please just pass on foster parenting. There are other reasons for not fostering – My career is too demanding; I drown goldfish and cacti; I don’t want to expose my kids to that instability; I live in a 1-bedroom walk-up; my cat tries to eat babies….
Regardless of why you choose not to foster, please, please, PLEASE(!!!) do not tell a foster parent that you can’t foster because “I’d get too attached.” If I hear that one more time, I may just lose my mind.
Just stop and think for one second. Do you really think I don’t get hopelessly, heart-breakingly attached to the children in my care? Do you think it isn’t excruciating when a child leaves our home – a child who’s slept in my house and played in my yard for weeks (never mind learned to walk in my living room and fallen asleep in my lap for months)?
Maybe what you really mean is that you’re not crazy enough to subject yourself to that. Or not strong enough. If that’s the case, say that. But don’t look me in my face and imply that you’re more compassionate/empathic/loving than me and so you would hurt more than I do when they leave.
I watched Mother Goose (my foster-parent mentor) take in a terminally-ill infant and love her completely and unreservedly until the baby passed away in her arms. And then struggle to put the pieces back together so she could take in the next baby that needed her.
Honestly, anyone who’s heart wouldn’t shatter when these kids leave has no business being a foster parent. I don’t believe it’s possible to truly love a child like they’re yours and then just be hunky-dory when they’re not anymore.
I don’t do this because it’s easy for me – or not painful – or god forbid, for the money. And I don’t do it because I enjoy having my heart ripped out every other week. I do it because … well, because I have to. I can’t save all the starfish. But I can make a difference for this one. I do it because I have to. If you don’t have to, that’s okay. Truly. This isn’t for everyone.