Before getting into foster care, I always had a desire for our family to adopt one day, but I thought my tender heart couldn't handle foster care. I thought, "Oh, I would love them way too much to let them go back to an unknown situation." I simply thought I could not handle the goodbyes, and that there were other people equipped for that. Everyone deserves to feel unconditional love, even if for only a short time. When I took the focus off of myself and placed it on what the child truly needs, my whole mindset shifted.
Having your needs met and experiencing love are so important for development, and if our home can create the groundwork for that, we can handle the sadness that comes with a goodbye.
We are a foster family for children who are 0-2 years old in Dallas, TX. Over the last 5 years, we have had 3 different children in our care. Initially, I just kept hearing about the great need in our city. I tried to ignore it for a while, but then I asked my husband to pray about it. Our daughter was 2.5 at the time, so it felt like a scary step for us as a family. However, he came back to me after 2 weeks and said, "Let's get licensed!"
We had 2 different placements, and after the second one went back to family, I told my husband and the Lord that I was done. I got pregnant and felt like that was confirmation that we had completed our calling. Two years passed, and as I sat at a women's retreat, I felt like I was being called out of my fear of a broken heart to foster again. I came home and told my husband, and he said, "Good...I've been waiting for this." We are currently licensed and have had 1 placement. Goodbyes are hard around here, so we are taking a short break and then will open our home again this summer.
Foster care is hard; I'm not going to lie about that. But there are a lot of hard things in our life, and isn't it in those moments that bring us closer to our maker? I know that is true of my life.
Another thing I've learned about life, is that being pro-life goes well beyond just being against abortion. If you are pro-life, then you should care about all life, and that includes foster children. Advocating on their behalf is just as important as advocating for lives that are still in their mother's womb.
The world of foster care can feel lonely, so finding friends that have been or are currently in the same position is helpful. There are many ways to help in the world of foster care. Certainly, foster parents are the greatest need, but if you are unable to do that, here are some other ways to be involved: become a respite provider, complete the necessary forms to babysit foster children, commit to bringing meals each time your friend has a new placement, or find out if your church has a support group for foster parents and find ways to serve those families.
When people know we foster, the most common response is, "Oh, I could never do that... saying goodbye would be way too hard." I used to be offended by that statement because I felt like there was an assumption that I'm hard-hearted and am not phased by goodbye. After realizing that I used to say that same thing, I now tell those people, "Oh, then you would be perfect!" Isn't that what all children need? Loving in such a way that will make the goodbye incredibly hard is how all of our relationships in life should be, so foster care shouldn't look any different.
Lauren, Foster Mom