Oh, the comments. You will tire quickly of the never-ending stream when you announce you are a foster family. Especially if you happen to be a young foster family.
“But what will this do to your own kids?”
“Being a foster family is really hard, you know that right?”
“But you are so busy already!”
“Those kids are very damaged.”
In the beginning of our journey, it felt like we had anything BUT support. I know everyone meant well—they didn’t want to see our little, young family hurt. They had good intentions. But what they didn’t know, is that we had already made up our minds.
We had racked our brains and prayed endlessly over this huge life decision.
We had consulted seasoned foster parents, done the training, read the books. There was no way to completely prepare ourselves for the future, but is there ever?
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I first felt the gentle nudge before I was married. I was 17 and working at a pediatric clinic. A little girl with ratty hair and a somber look walked through the door, holding the hand of what appeared to be a caseworker. She had one shoe. My curiosity revealed that she had just been removed and needed to be examined by a doctor immediately. I will always remember that little girl’s face. And I believe that was the day God exposed my heart to foster care.
Fast forward a few years. I was married and my husband and I had struggled to carry a pregnancy past the first trimester. I was devastated. And I thought back to that little girl. I began researching the licensing process, and before we knew it, we were having our first home visit.
God cracked our hearts wide open and there was no going back.
We were halfway through the process when we found out we were pregnant. “We should continue the process,” I told my husband. “What if we lose this one, too?”
We didn’t. We had a healthy baby girl, and she rocked our world in the best way possible. And when she was four months old, we accepted our first foster placement.
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It was not the best first experience. It was hard. As a therapeutic foster family, any child we received would have pretty significant behavioral issues. And this was no exception.
We were reluctant to ever accept another placement again. But we did. Because when you get a phone call that a child needs a safe place to land, and you know that child has a name and a face and a unique story, how can you say no?
What I want our friends and family to know is we have the same fears you do. We are not blinded to the risks of opening our hearts and home to a child and the situation that surrounds them. It’s terrifying.
There is going to be heartbreak no matter how the case goes.
Because we live in a broken world, and sometimes God calls us out of our comfort zone for the good of others. He doesn’t always call us to easy, in fact, He rarely does.
Our family could not sit back and ignore this great need. Sometimes, these kids have no one who truly stands up for them. And that is not OK. If caring and responsible adults do not step in, our entire society will suffer in the future. They will become adults who do not know right from wrong, have no support system, and have no hope in their own future.
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Fostering is not right for everyone, but as someone wise once said, everyone can do something. Advocate, pray, provide respite, show up on a foster family’s door with a meal or a coffee (trust me, neither of those would be turned down).
A foster family needs all the support it can get.
So maybe instead of saying, “Are you sure about this?” say, “I am here for you, how can I help?”