Over the years I have tried to walk alongside many of my foster parent friends who are trying SO hard to do right by their foster kids. Here are six things I desperately want to say to each foster parent:
2) Stop trying to figure out your case. Try not to focus on birth families. The decisions they make and the way things play out will not play out differently if you are worrying about them.
3) Try to figure out how to work with and encourage birth families. Kindness goes a long way. Do not worry about their messes or their choices. Just send pictures, update them on milestones and keep them posted. They may need advice and help, and it would be cool if you could be a resource for them – they may not have anyone in their lives to ask.
4) Relax, but document. Every kid get bumps and bruises, illnesses, and needs to see the doctor. Don’t panic, just take them in. I took my foster daughter to the doctor at least monthly because her birth mom was worried about something silly – a scrape, cough, etc. I learned it was important to support the birthparents by allowing them to overreact. Take notes and keep the caseworker in the loop – then accusations are less likely to surface and birth families see you take their child’s health seriously.
5) Love the kids like there is no tomorrow. This is key, because there may not be a tomorrow with this kid. Instead of worrying about tomorrow, try to enjoy today. You have today, for sure.
6) Cry. You will need to a lot. Because you are happy, because you are stressed, because you are scared, because you are sad. Find a foster family who can mourn with you and understand a bit more of how you feel. Just cry – it will make everyone’s life easier if you do.
Seriously – there are not enough rock star foster parents, so keep doing what you’re doing and keep these six things in the back of your mind. Hugs to you all.
– Jill Ng, licensed foster parent