“I could never be a foster parent. I would love them too much and could never let them go!”
When we tell people that we are Foster Parents, this is the response we get. Almost always.
When we first started fostering, these comments made me crazy. If I met you back then, I probably made a snarky face and changed the subject. Sorry. We had our first placement – twin baby boys that we absolutely adored. Were you saying we didn’t love them enough because we would eventually “let” them leave? That you would love a child MORE than we do? I was irritated. And tired. Because TWINS.
But then they left. While we fully supported the decision to move them home, it didn’t stop us from not wanting them to go. They had been part of our family for 9 months, and there was a small part of us that thought maybe they would need to stay. But we packed them up, dropped them off and drove away from our little guys as they stood crying at the door. It was a loss, for sure, with the sadness that comes along with it. Luckily, we had a good relationship with their family and continued to see them fairly regularly.
To this day, I still love those boys. They taught me – without question – that I could love someone else’s child as my own. They showed me the great good that can be done in a short amount of time. And after they left, I learned that I could also let go. I gained a powerful new perspective. And a new response to all of the people that tell me that they just couldn’t give a child back.
Actually, you could.
“But I would get too attached!”
Great! That’s what foster kids need. Someone to go all in. To feel that someone is on their side. To know someone is there for them when they come home from school or wake up at night or have a bad day. Or a good day. Every day. Attachment is a fundamental need. An important one.
“But it would break my heart when they left.”
Yes. That might be true. But what that tells me is that you have a heart – a big one. Big enough to make it through that loss in one piece. Foster parenting is just like regular parenting in that you are often asked to put the needs of a child in front of your own. These little kids have known heartache that we can’t imagine. So maybe your big heart could bear a bit of sadness if it means a little heart has the chance to heal.
“You guys are saints!”
No. Definitely no. Taking care of a child is a pretty ordinary thing to do. Foster parents are regular people who love kids that aren’t their own. You don’t need to be perfect. You don’t need to be an expert on kids or trauma or anything at all. Fostering isn’t always easy, but it’s also not rocket science. You learn the child and you learn the system and then you do your best. We make mistakes, we have bad days. But then we learn and grow and try again. Because that is parenting, regardless of where your child comes from.
May is National Foster Care Month. At MKE Moms Blog, we are kicking off a new series so you can take a glimpse into the lives of moms who provide Foster Care or Respite Foster Care here in our city. Follow us on our journey. Maybe you’ll find there’s space in your family where a child could fit, even just for a little while.
And yes, I know, you can’t imagine loving a child and then letting them go. Honestly, at first I couldn’t either. But we did it. And it was one of the best decisions we ever made.