Foster care is hard. If you’ve ever thought about becoming a foster parent, it is important that you understand it will not be a simple journey. But my foster kids have completely changed my life for the better. We have been luckier than most foster-to-adopt parents because we haven’t had to say goodbye to long-term placements, so if you are interested in adoption, you’ll want to speak to those who have gone through that situation.
Here are my top five things I’ve learned being a foster-to-adopt parent, so far …
1) I will choose to cherish my foster kids every day. Each child could be reunited with his or her family at any point in the process, so I enjoy each snuggle, laugh and special moment. After struggling to bond with my foster son when he was just a few days old, I had a great conversation with another foster parent who reminded me to not be afraid. During most of the foster care process, it is struggle to know if this placement is permanent or temporary. With that in mind, I need to not fear them leaving — I need to just enjoy each day and show them the deep love of Christ. You will NEVER regret loving a child too much.
2) My feelings/opinions about everything don’t always matter. This has been a great lesson for me as the court system kind of ignores my opinions and instead listens to the facts about the child. It is more important everyone looks out for the kid versus them doing what I want them to do. That is not an easy lesson, but a valuable one.
3) God will bring the right child to me — at the right moment. We had a baby boy straight from the hospital as our first placement. I really wanted to keep him, but the family who originally stepped away changed their minds. Now I realize that if that little baby hadn’t left, I never would’ve met my kids. He was an important part of our family’s story — just not the way I wanted him to be, and that’s OK.
4) I choose to leave foster care better than I found it. To be very honest, while “the system” is broken and there are some case workers, court personnel and others who ignore policies, don’t care or screw up I personally have dealt with more positive, hardworking people than negative ones. I try to give good feedback and hold each person accountable to what I’m told their job is, but I also encourage them when they are looking out for my foster kids. I refuse to be only a criticizing voice.
5) Each child’s absence deserves to be mourned. If any kid leaves my home at any point, I should be sad. Not sad about where they are going, but recognizing the loss of a future with this child deserves a tearful goodbye. I have cried over placement phone calls that never ended up in me meeting a child. Foster care has made me (and my husband) more emotional and in touch with the deep love I have for my kids. That is priceless.
~ Jill Ng, licensed foster parent