Two things I learned about fostering

Recently our family said yes to fostering a sibling group of three (9, 6 & 10 month old).  This put our family at 8 – 6 children ranging from 16 to 10 months old.  We had never taken in a sibling group before and we were not exactly sure how we were going to make this all work.  We had spent the last year and a half moving through the adoption process of our little Lucy, and had just adopted her when they arrived.

As an ambassador for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services, I was now going to practice what I preached.  I frequently tell prospective foster parents that you don’t have to know how to do it all, or have a specific résumé to foster.  You need to open your home, love the children and be part of the solution in their lives.  Yeah, I know … easier preached than reached!  So, I took my own advice and we learned each day how to best make a family of 8 work.  Along the way I learned two very important things.

  1. Endure your decision.
  2. Accept the consequences of doing the right thing.

Choices or decisions can easily be made but can be hard to stick with.  Things don’t go as planned, unexpected curve balls are thrown your way or you may lose support you once had.  This is where accepting the decision you made, as the right thing, comes in.  It’s not all angelic music and rainbows when you do the right thing.  People don’t throw you a parade because you put yourself out there, in fact many days it feels like you were hit by the parade.  Don’t let someone else’s lack of understanding, their opinions or a challenging day change your right to a wrong.

When people found out we now had 6 children the comments were not all positive or supportive.  Some were critical and even a bit harsh.  As family and friends have now met my children, have seen how our family makes this work and have realized “these children” are not the negative that has happened to them, it has softened some of the critics.

Why our family continues to foster

There is a story about a spider in India that best explains why our family continues to foster all of God’s children.

There was a a kind, quiet man who would pray in the Ganges river every day.  Once day, after praying, he saw a spider struggling in the water and cupped his hands to carry it to shore.  As he placed the spider on the ground, it stung him.  The next day the same thing happened.  On the third day, sure enough, the man spotted the struggling spider.  As he bent to lift up the spider the spider said “why do you lift me day after day?”  “Can’t you see I will sting you every time, because that is what I do!”  As the kind man cupped his hands about the spider he replied, “because that is what I do!” 

There are many reasons to do the right thing, but perhaps none is as compelling as the spiritual fact that it is what we do.  To do what is right, to reach out, is far more important than the sting.

You may not have all the answers, you will make mistakes and there will be critics armed with judgments.  Have a few good people, who will come alongside of you, whether they understand fully or not, and support you.  At the end of the day be okay with what you do.  The children don’t care how or why, they are just thankful you do!

- Betsy DuKatz, licensed foster parent
Betsy Dukatz


Comments

Two things I learned about fostering — 12 Comments

  1. Betsy Dukatz is an inspiration to so many and has touched my life as well. This amazing woman forgot to mention that not only does she foster at home she is a 6th grade teacher….making all of them her own too! I would love to follow her example someday and pray my friend will lead me to help a helpless child!
    Take a moment to speak with her…..u will go away with a smile on ur face!
    Michele

    • Michele-

      You are so awesome my friend!!! Have I told you how much I love seeing you in the morning??? Well I do. You, and your fabulous daughters, are such a blessing in my life!! Thank you for your kind and supportive words. I have always had your support and ER expertise to lean on :) I am so grateful and thankful for that my friend!!
      Much love
      Bets

  2. Bets,
    Thanks for reminding me all the time why we still do this. “Because this is what we do!!!!” I wish more days were spent on the floats, but getting hit by the parade isn’t so bad with other foster parents to support you. :) happy Thanksgiving, thankful for foster parents like you.

  3. wow!!! You have no idea how much your words encouraged my husband and I. We have 4 sibblings ages 8, 7, 6 and 3 that were placed in our home a couple of weeks ago and we were at the end of our ropes. We were ready to ask for them to be removed because of the challenges we have been through, but today we got a clear sign from God of the change we can make in their lives. Today we had a wonderful day at Church, to them any concept about God and Christianity is completely new, but they are taking it all into their hearts with great spiritual thirst. They asked many questions about Church after last week and today they kept asking when we are going to Church. They did great during the morning, and in the afternoon, we played a video that introduced them to the story of Christ, ending with a call to pray the sinners pray. We couldn’t believe it when on their own one of them (the one that has cause us most trouble) very seriously started to repeat the prayer. There were tears in our eyes as the other 3 continue to repeat the prayer.
    Today we asked God for a sign if we should keep them with us, and he definetely answered us. Just a couple of hours later my husband and I read your post and it felt like a God was comfirming our decision. Thanks so much for letting God use you to bless others.
    BTW we have no other children and this is our first placement to adopt :o)

    • Z.N.
      God bless you for leaving those heart & soul filling comments! We just recently went through a difficult time (just before Thanksgiving) and we prayed and prayed about it. God just continuely “shows up” in our lives – he surely “showed up” in your words to me :) I am so very, very glad I spoke to you guys. I am even more happy to know those children are with wonderful, loving people like your husband and yourself. If I can do anything for you guys please e-mail me or call me (414-379-7468) if you ever need to just talk or have questions please lean on us :) Again, thank you so very much for your words . . . they mean the world to me! I am printing them out and posting them on my bathroom mirror :)
      God bless you guys
      Betsy

  4. Betsy, Praise God for His perfect timing using you to speak to ZN who is my son’s wife…I had been up allnight praying for God to help these innocent children that I know He loves. You have been a blessing to the children of your home and the children of our family. As I felt I had no more tears I turned on FB to see if I had any msg from her and found her reply posted. Now I cry in joy and praise for my Jesus who has shown us again that He will be with them thru all the days ahead. Dear woman keep writing as your voice is needed and touching many lives. Thank you.their gramma

    • Gramma-
      You rock !!! Every foster family needs a Gramma in their corner like you! The love and support you give is inmeasurable and so very, very needed. Thank you for lifting up your son and daughter-in-law in prayer and love. You have also touched my life and my heart with your supportive and loving comments! Those babies are so very fortunate to have a Gramma like you!
      God bless you Gramma
      Love
      Betsy

  5. My wife and I have been foster parents going on 4 years and it is very rewarding and also very stressful at times. I read posts like this at several different sites and I wonder if the majority of people who do foster have strong christian beliefs? I am an Atheist and my wife is not a Christian and we seem like the odd people out when we go to meetings and foster care events. When asked why we foster, I reply that we had space in our home and our hearts and it is the right thing to do. Many foster parents are shocked and some very dismayed that we are not Christian. I guess I am curious if there are any other foster parents out there who are doing this because it is the right thing to do and not a divine directive?

    • First and foremost I would say to you . . . as a Christian it’s not my place to judge. Secondly, for whatever reason you do this incrediblly selfless, loving act is a GREAT REASON! You are NOT the odd people out . . . YOU ARE MY PEOPLE! Foster parents are some of the only people that “get” foster parents! At the end of the day the children in your home care about love, attachment, security, and belonging to a FAMILY! That’s good enough my friend, that is good enough :) Please keep on doing what you are doing and know that I so appreciate and thank you for it!!
      Much love
      Betsy

  6. My wife just introduced me to this website and I have read this blog “conversation” with interest. I LOVE the spider story. I very much agreed with the response to Scott above. Scott, I really am convinced that the goodness of being a foster parent, the gift of providing love, stability, safety, food and care when those essentials have been absent in the life of a traumatized child, is a good and sacred thing, regardless of one’s perspective on faith. For us, there was a sense of “call” or invitation. No voice, flashing light or “sign”, but a gentle, persistent tug deep inside. It’s a struggle and a gift all at the same time – for us and our adopted daughter! -Scott (and Gina)

  7. I actually read the whole article, and every word of it is very inspiring. I hope that people would open their minds in this kind of things. And I do hope that every orphan would have a foster parent that just like you. I’m sure your children are so lucky to have you. :)

    • Thank you Pauline for those “bucket filling” words. As a foster parent I know I do not go at this adventure alone. I am encouraged and supported by family, friends and people I have not yet met. It is that support and kindness, the reaching out, that keeps us going. So thank you so much my new friend :) God Bless you!!

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