As foster parents we must recognize our daily successes

We can all agree that we are much harder on ourselves than anyone else. We strive for perfection in our society, for getting it right the first time every time, and this only causes us to be critical of ourselves. What we often overlook is how much we are getting right and how many times we have succeeded.

Foster parents are no exception and oftentimes feel the most unsuccessful. They don’t stop to realize that they are caring for some of the most vulnerable, traumatized and challenging children. With each child who comes into the home, foster parents build a new skill set specific to that child. In addition to meeting the unique needs of the child, foster parents then extend themselves to the child’s biological parents. This in turn requires yet another skill set to be built, …Continue reading →

Foster parent advice for answering the tough questions

I work as a Certified Child Life Specialist in a hospital setting where I am often charged with
providing supportive conversations with children about new diagnosis, surgery and loss.

Even with formal training and a degree to support this work, it is often my 5½-year-old’s infinite curiosity that brings me to a loss for words.

Our family currently finds itself in various stages of permanency. We have an adopted son, a baby we are fostering, and I am also expecting. On the way to school one day, my son asked, “What will happen if we can’t adopt the baby (in your belly)?” …Continue reading →

Parenting with empathy is extremely important for foster children

Last year, we got the call to take in a 7-year-old girl. She was our first placement and would be dropped off within the hour. I will never forget seeing her face when she arrived at our door. She was so young, so little and all by herself. That afternoon we went out to Culver’s and then to Kmart to pick up pajamas and clothes for school the next day.

As the months went on, we worked to help her cope with the trauma she experienced. It was hard on her and us. As sweet as she looked and could be, her behaviors were tough to manage. I did what I thought was the best for her… I parented her with empathy. …Continue reading →

The true “beauty” I see as a foster parent

“It is a beautiful thing you are doing for those kids.”
“What beautiful children you have; I love their curly brown locks.”
“What a beautiful person you are to do what you do. I could never do it.”
“What a beautiful family you all are!”
 “You have such a beautiful way with these kids.”
“What a beautiful blessing for him to have you for his foster mom.”

The word “beauty” is thrown out a lot when people talk to me about being a foster family.

But the true beauty is that you don’t actually have to BE a foster parent to make a difference in the lives of children in foster care. Your beauty can resonate and touch their lives in ways that may impact them without you even knowing it. …Continue reading →

10 things I would go back to tell myself as a new foster parent

1.  You will fall in love with every child who enters your home, and they will become a part of your family. They will take a chunk of your heart with you when they leave, but you will also find that your heart has grown tremendously by loving them.

2.  You will never be caught up on laundry. You just won’t, don’t even try.

…Continue reading →

Foster care: It’s a challenge worth taking

family3Many people become foster parents longing to adopt. In fact, when my husband and I began fostering, it was with the intent to adopt. We never imagined we would foster beyond that, or have an open door for children to come in and out of our home.

I still believe we will eventually adopt, so I can understand the desire parents have to adopt a child right away. I have felt how a momma can long for a child she has never met. I know firsthand how …Continue reading →

5 changes I made to save my foster parent sanity

1. Stop seeking/worrying about approval from others.
This is great advice regardless of whether you foster. I am a people pleaser, and that can be a good and bad thing for the same reason: I worry about other people’s opinions. When we began fostering, I thought people would celebrate the good we were doing. It was a wakeup call, however, to see how people acted and reacted to bringing traumatized children into our family. I learned quickly that fostering is our calling, and grew up quickly, leaning on others who foster to strengthen my faith, because after all it is God bringing us these precious souls. Over the years, because we have stayed the course, it has been amazing to see some people’s opinions and actions change.

2. Back off the case(worker).
I use to be that person who sent constant emails and had questions for every aspect of the case. I would communicate weekly, sometimes daily, …Continue reading →

A message to foster parents everywhere

It is said that during World War II that Arthur Hays Sulzberger, the publisher of The New York Times, found it almost impossible to sleep. He was never able to clear his mind of worries until he adopted these five words as his motto, “One step enough for me.” They are taken from an old hymn, “Lead, Kindly Light… Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see. The distant scene; one step enough for me.”

“Easy” is not a word I would use for our fostering journey.

As a foster parent, there are events you might not understand, things that keep you guessing, wondering and worrying. Things seem to happen all at once or they drag on for what seems like forever. We would love to have a crystal ball that gives us a clear understanding, calms our fears and ends our worrying. But that crystal ball does not exist, so we will have to settle for …Continue reading →

What it’s like when a foster family says goodbye

handsIf I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times: “I could never do what you do, because I couldn’t give them back.” That comment gets under my skin. Every time. It’s as if people are claiming that because they just couldn’t “give them up,” they are better than me. As if saying, because I can give them up, I am less of a mom or must have some kind of superpower they don’t possess.

Of course, neither of those is true. As we prepare to say goodbye to another precious one we have loved as our own, I think, “I can’t do this.” I don’t want to have a conversation with the other children in our home telling them …Continue reading →