In my opinion, being a foster mommy has been the most humbling, joyous, painful, unpredictable, and vulnerable journey that I could have ever bargained for. I’ve learned a few lessons along the way. Things they don’t teach during your training classes. I figured I’d share some with you, today. Just in case you’re interested in fostering. Or, just interested.
Scott and I are still fairly new at this. It’s been about three years. We fostered three babies. (Two were reunified.) We currently have a nine month old, baby boy (Baby Blue), whom we may be adopting. We fostered a pre-teenager for a shorter amount of time than we anticipated (two months). And, we almost took on a foster-to-adopt sibling pair, under three years old. It’s been a roller coaster ride of experiences and emotions. To say the least.
Five Lessons I’ve Learned from being a Foster Mommy
1.) You can love a child as if she were your own.
It may, or may not, be considered a good thing. On one hand, foster parents are afraid that they will not love a child enough. (And, every child deserves to be loved, no matter what their unpredictable future holds.) But, for some of us, it’s because we chose to love these children (the same way we would our own flesh and blood) that we may end up getting hurt.
In my heart, I will never regret giving Baby Banana (our first foster baby) 100% of my heart. It still aches today because I never anticipated being her foster mommy for so long (two years), then losing her completely, forever. But, I know that there was so much beauty poured into that little girl’s life. I know that my loved ones are still praying for her, as I am, and always will. It was worth it. Someday, she’ll learn about her first two years of life. It may not be until she is in heaven. But, she will know how much Scott and I loved her, cared for her, and placed her needs before our own. And, that brings me joy.
2.) It’s not really about the best interest of the child.
I’m not sure why they are not clearer about this during the foster parent training. (At least not in our training.) But, at the end of the day, it’s really about the Bio Family. They are given sometimes a few years to even decide if they want to do what it takes to get their child reunified. It doesn’t matter if, by that time, the child is fully bonded, thriving, and practically begging to stay put. It doesn’t matter if the doctors suggest it being too traumatic to the point of potential health concerns. It doesn’t even matter if the Bio family has other children that they chose not to care for. (Each new baby is a clean slate.) Scott and I learned the hard way, that it’s really about the Bio Parents. If they are willing to just say “yes” to services and make minimal effort (demonstrate “minimal parenting”) they will most likely be getting that child reunified. Sadly, some deliberately take their time because they want to save money, wait til the baby is out of diapers, or they do this because they know they can.
3.) Every foster child’s future is handled somewhat subjectively.
To some extent, this is common sense. But, it was a bit eye opening in recognizing the difference between every case worker, law guardian, and judge. A foster child’s entire future lies in the hands of these individuals. It’s a huge responsibility, and one that can’t be taken lightly.
Personally, what it all comes down to is trusting God. This is probably the most critical lesson one can learn as a foster mommy (or foster daddy). Even though things may be extremely painful and confusing, Scott and I choose to trust in what God is doing. In the end, He’ll receive the glory in every situation. God loves these foster babies more than any Biological or Foster parent combined!
4.) Fostering the way a child needs may not be what a Bio family wants.
This completely blew my mind. But, there are times that a bio family will deliberately say no to the foster family taking the child with them on vacation. They would rather you put their child in a stranger’s care. (Another resource family the child has never met.)
The good news is that the judge will most likely grant permission, for the child’s sake. But it does break my heart to know that the child’s best interest is not always considered. Some bio families resent if their baby ends up referencing the resource parents as mommy and daddy. Even if they are in your care for the first two years of their life and it’s unknown as to whether or not they are leaving.
I will add that every Bio Family is different. And, even though the trainings all say that the Foster Family should be included in a foster child’s case plan, it’s not always the case. A Bio Family can refuse to include the resource family in team meetings and even reject their input. Some may even be led to believe that the resource family is a threat. This part is very frustrating and painful. It can even cause the resource parents into feeling suspicious about the Bio Family’s genuine intentions in getting their child back.
5.) Nothing refines your relationships with your loved ones more than seeing how they respond to your foster status.
Another aspect that has completely blown my mind! I never anticipated how much my family and Scott’s family would love our foster babies. I mean, I knew they would love them, but not as much as they do! My mom still keeps pictures of Banana and Berry in her house. Scott’s parents spend every Tuesday with Baby Blue. Our siblings, cousins, etc. all love these babies so genuinely, it makes my heart sing. Most of our family and friends love these foster babies as much as any baby in their own biological family.
Sadly, I do have some friends that barely acknowledge our foster babies. It hurts a little, but I do get it. They may be uncomfortable, afraid to get attached, or just uninterested. We don’t have biological children, so I guess I can’t say if they’d be different either way. But, it was something I acknowledged throughout this experience.
So, there you have it. Some of the lessons I’ve learned in three years of being a foster mommy. I don’t know what the future holds. I’ll continue providing updates on Baby Blue. (Have you subscribed yet to receive your weekly newsletter?) I’d love to hear what your interest is in foster care. Leave a comment below!