Shop the fall collection ➔

I remember the moment. The four of us were all sitting on the kitchen counters eating cereal at ten p.m. (or it might have been ice-cream. . . we were young and stressed) debriefing about the events of the day. We were all recent college graduates in our early twenties who were responsible for the day-in and day-out love and nurture of 7 boys, mostly teens and preteens. Boys who had come from trauma. Boys who couldn’t safely live with their parents. Boys who brought their unhealthy coping skills and beautiful smiles into this house designed to be their home until they could be safely reunified with their families. . . which for many of them over the years never happened.

We were exhausted by our work. My husband and I were the houseparents and along with caring for the boys were also responsible for supervising the interns assigned to help us– interns that were our same age with our same level of experience (namely, not much). We worked together to design systems to help these kids and created nurturing rituals and loved them with every ounce of our beings and it was draining. I remember the moment when one of our interns said, “I don’t think it’s supposed to be this hard. It shouldn’t be this hard.” We saw other houseparents that made it look easier than what we were experiencing. Were we making this more difficult than it had to be? It’s a question that has continued to haunt me over the years of caring for kids from trauma and as we continue to advocate for them, their families, and the foster families that partner with them.

I remember answering her in the moment, “I think it IS supposed to be this hard, if you’re doing it right.” And that’s continued to be the answer that gives me peace.

If Foster Care is Hard, You're Probably Doing it Right www.herviewfromhome.com

If you’re doing foster care right, it may be the hardest thing you’ll ever do. You will witness behaviors that are startling and break your heart as you realize they used to serve a purpose in the life of this child. You’ll see physical wounds that are painful just to look at. You’ll read court reports that frighten you. You’ll spend your days and minutes and hours doing a thousand things to build trust, but the one time you respond in harshness, you’re back to square one. You will be up all night with a child who has nightmares, then be chastised by her mother for not having her dressed in the clothes mom prefers for the visit that day. There are days it will feel like beating your head against the wall and you’ll wonder why you ever willingly signed up for this. And that’s usually the day someone will make an offhanded comment about how foster parents are all in it for the money and you’ll have to do your best not to cry because you KNOW they aren’t paying you well enough to make it worth the pain.

If you’re looking for some kind of “ministry” opportunity where you can put in a minimum of effort and receive the maximum praise, this isn’t the thing for you. If you’re not willing to do something hard, don’t bother. But if you jump into this world and in those dark moments find yourself asking, “Is it supposed to be this hard?” just know there are many other foster parents with you, standing beside you, saying “Yes! It is! Because you’re doing it right!” We know the cost of doing foster care well and we validate the pain you’re experiencing and promise it isn’t in vain.

Foster kids need you to be all in for them. They need you to be willing to take on the hard so they can have a chance at healing, at chance at normalcy. Struggling through the pain of foster care is NOT a sign that you’re doing it wrong or that you shouldn’t be doing it at all. It is a sign you are seeing this child’s needs and you are fighting to be sure they are met. And the struggles of foster care aren’t the whole story.

If Foster Care is Hard, You're Probably Doing it Right www.herviewfromhome.com

Because the challenges are so intense, the pain is so deep, the joy is intense, too. There are moments of stunning beauty– the child who finally comes to you when they’re scared instead of hiding, the teenager who tells you how they’d protect you from any harm, the baby that learns to calm when you sing to them, the little girl who proudly brings you her school project, the little boy who shyly hands you a bouquet of dandelions. Reunifications with a mother who worked so hard. Adoptions by families who loved their children from the start.

In foster care you learn to not just seek joy in the happy endings, because they are the exceptions rather than the rule. You learn to find joy in the process. You seize these fleeting moments of peace because you know what a gift they are. You become a different person than you ever thought you could be as your heart stretches to love not just the helpless child in front of you, but the family that gave him life and is struggling to reclaim their own. Even the brokenness of “the system” and the frustrations of the foster care process become opportunities to find your voice as an advocate and fight for this child and the many other children stuck in legal limbo as wards of the state.

Could foster care be easier? Sure. If we weren’t so invested. If we didn’t love so hard, fight so strongly, feel so deeply. If we WERE just collecting a monthly reimbursement and walling ourselves off from these kids and their struggles. There is a way to do foster care more easily, but that involves these kids being denied a real chance at normalcy, stability and love. I know those kinds of foster homes exist and it breaks my heart. Easy isn’t my goal. 

Even in the very hardest of days, foster care is the right thing to do. It isn’t right because the results go the way we want or we always feel appreciated and loved for our sacrifices or because this child and their family become functioning and healthy. Foster care is often hard because this work is messy and getting involved means you’re going to get messy, too. But that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be this hard. And we’re supposed to keep at it because these kids are worth it.

For more information on foster care in Nebraska, contact Christian Heritage

If you're doing foster care right, it may be the hardest thing you'll ever do. It isn't easy, the days are long but the smiles are worth it.

Maralee Bradley

Maralee is a mom of six pretty incredible kids. Four were adopted (one internationally, three through foster care) and two were biological surprises. Prior to becoming parents, Maralee and her husband were houseparents at a children’s home and had the privilege of helping to raise 17 boys during their five year tenure. Maralee is passionate about caring for kids, foster parenting and adoption, making her family a fairly decent dinner every night, staying on top of the laundry, watching ridiculous documentaries and doing it all for God’s glory. Maralee can be heard on My Bridge Radio talking about motherhood and what won't fit in a 90 second radio segment ends up at www.amusingmaralee.com.

If You Give a Foster Family a Chicken Dinner

In: Foster Care, Kids
If You Give a Foster Family a Chicken Dinner www.herviewfromhome.com

If you give a foster family a chicken dinner, They might have extra time to spend with their foster child. When they have extra time to spend with their foster child, They’ll spend it taking a walk, looking at flowers. When they spend it on a walk looking at flowers, They learn more about each other because they aren’t feeling stressed by dinner prep. When they learn more about each other because they aren’t feeling stressed, They are able to work on forming a healthy attachment. If they’re able to work on forming a healthy attachment, They’re creating a foundation...

Keep Reading

Loving My Children’s Other Mother

In: Adoption, Foster Care, Kids
Loving My Children's Other Mother www.herviewfromhome.com

A few days have passed since the whole world shouted out how amazing their mothers are. I was not left behind. Beautiful cards and flowers decorate our home. However, it’s the sweet faces around my table that are the most beautiful part of my life. Our lives together have been hard-fought. We are a family built by unexpected pregnancy, foster care, adoption and choice. It never fails on days like these where celebrations and cheers ring out that I am aware my celebration is the sound of heartbreak to someone else. This particular Mother’s Day was different than most. I...

Keep Reading

When it’s Time to Stop Being a Foster Mom

In: Adoption, Foster Care, Kids, Motherhood
When it's Time to Stop Being a Foster Mom www.herviewfromhome.com

I’m still not okay with calling myself a “former foster mom.” It just doesn’t feel right. My heart is still so in the world of foster care as I support families in the trenches and continue to deal with post foster care issues with my kids. After five years in group home work and 7 years as foster parents, I can’t imagine a time when foster care won’t be on my heart and in my mind, but for this season we are not active foster parents.  This has been a weird loss of identity that I’ve struggled to put words...

Keep Reading

Dear Foster Parents: Please Remember The “Older Ones”

In: Foster Care, Kids

My husband and I have recently shared the news that we are in the process of becoming foster parents. I was as excited to celebrate this news with family and friends as I was to celebrate the pregnancies of our two babies. I have been overwhelmed by the love and support we have been shown. So many of our people have reached out to offer words of wisdom and kindness as we prepare for this beautiful and heartbreaking journey ahead of us. But I was upset by a comment I received the other day over the phone. “Just watch out...

Keep Reading

Siblings’ Plea to Be Adopted Together Has Gone Viral and They Live In YOUR Town

In: Adoption, Foster Care, Kids

Foster care and adoption are sort of my thing. I follow, approximately, every single foster care and adoption page on the internet. So when a foster or adoption story goes viral, I see it over and over again. Once it was the story of a foster mom who broke down when she found her foster son’s toothbrush. We all cried over that one. Another time it was the ten year old boy who pleaded with a church congregation for someone to, please, adopt him. “I’ll adopt you!” I cried, along with every other mother who watched. This week it was...

Keep Reading

Sex Trafficking is YOUR Problem (and one thing you can do to help)

In: Foster Care, Kids
Sex Trafficking is YOUR Problem (and one thing you can do to help) www.herviewfromhome.com

I’m going to be really honest with you about the evolution of my understanding of sex trafficking. I’m wondering if maybe it’s been your process, too. Step 1: Sex trafficking is a really bad thing that happens in other countries where there are brothels and American businessmen pay for sex. Somebody should do something about that. Step 2: Sex trafficking is a really bad thing that happens in my country where desperate women with drug problems trade their bodies for money and dangerous pimps make money off of it. We should do something about that. Step 3: Sex trafficking is...

Keep Reading

I Can Be The Attention He Has Not Received: Our Foster Care Journey

In: Foster Care, Homeschool, Kids
I Can Be The Attention He Has Not Received: Our Foster Care Journey www.herviewfromhome.com

This two-year-old beats at my leg and I scoop him into my lap. He has spent the last ten minutes indiscriminately throwing objects within reach and screaming drooly screams and thrashing his body to slam cupboards or furniture or whatever will bring an appropriately satisfying crash. In short, we’ve been riding out a typical two-year-old meltdown. But he’s not a typical two-year-old. He’s a foster kid with zero calming strategies. There is no pulling him back from the ledge he has emotionally stepped off. There is only existing in this space together and being there to hold him once exhaustion...

Keep Reading

Ready To Be Done With These Multi-Colored Maps? There’s One More You Have To See.

In: Adoption, Foster Care, Kids, Motherhood
Ready To Be Done With These Multi-Colored Maps? There's One More You Have To See. www.herviewfromhome.com

My eyes have probably seen these multi-colored state maps a thousand times over the past week or so. I was fairly vocal on social media about this election, but even I finally got to the point where I. am. done. with it all. I even contemplated staying off of Facebook for a while, but, I mean, what kind of person do you think I am? I am of the opinion that, no matter who you voted for, we should all just share a collective vat of wine and never talk about parties and swing states and campaigns ever again. The...

Keep Reading

Today I Hate Foster Care

In: Adoption, Foster Care, Kids
Today I Hate Foster Care www.herviewfromhome.com

Can I be honest? Today I hate foster care. I hate what it has done to people I love– adults and children alike. I hate how hopeless it has made me about the government’s ability to do anything right. I hate how good people in the system get burned out by how impossible it seems to make any kind of positive change, but bad people (foster parents, caseworkers, lawyers, etc.) can do this for ages because they don’t really care. I hate that I encourage people into this hard work and then they get wounded and I feel in some...

Keep Reading

The Children in Our Hearts: A Foster Care Story

In: Faith, Foster Care, Kids, Motherhood
The Children in Our Hearts: A Foster Care Story www.herviewfromhome.com

My husband and I said we would never foster a child. We thought it was something we just weren’t called to do. It would be too hard. Have you ever noticed that right around the time you start adamantly declaring that you can’t and won’t do something, God steps in? He reminds you that you have simply forgotten that His power is made perfect in your weakness. We moved to Uganda right around Mother’s Day. A few hours away from our new town a baby girl, whose mother passed away, was born right around Mother’s Day. A few short weeks...

Keep Reading