“I could never foster, it’s too heartbreaking. I don’t know how you do it.”
These are statements that I hear almost daily. Lately, I couldn’t agree with them more. When I hear this I often want to scream back “I DON’T want to foster anymore, I AM heartbroken, and I CAN’T do it.”
Choosing to foster is by far the most difficult decision my husband and I have ever made together. If I am being honest, there are days I question if we made a mistake.
From the time my sister was placed with her first foster child, I knew I wanted to open our home too. In the beginning, my husband wasn’t super keen on the idea. Three months into our marriage, I forced him to attend a foster seminar at our church. At the end of the night, I was hoping his feelings had changed. I was crushed when his answer was still no.
I tried to drop the subject for the next few months, but I just couldn’t let it go. When my sister brought home her second child, I approached my husband again. I wanted to be a part of something life changing too! I wanted to help a family, and I wanted to bridge. More than anything, I wanted a child in our home.
Last fall, my husband finally agreed. He still voiced his concern that we would most likely suffer a lot of heartache and pain. He was worried I wouldn’t handle it well, that my emotions would get the best of me. I assured him I knew what we were getting into and that I could keep my feelings under control.
My husband was 110% right. As pure as our intentions might have been, we got in way over our head.
Fostering is SO hard. Not only are you dealing with the needs of a child, but you are also faced with their family and their family’s history. We believe that as foster parents, we are called to bridge. I bridge hard. I overstep my own boundaries time and time again. I give my whole heart every single day. To be frank, it’s exhausting and I’m really tired.
Along with bridging, there are court dates and DHS visits. Whenever my case worker calls me, I always fear the worst. She knows me well and would agree that I worry constantly. I am a never-ending ball of anxiety. I cannot count the number of times I have burst into tears or dropped to my knees, stressed over the future of the sweet angel who lives in our home.
See that’s the whole thing though. There is one main reason above all others as to why fostering is so hard. That reason is sitting beside me right now coloring her shapes. I’m watching her with so much pride because she drew a circle herself. When she first came to us, she didn’t even know what a circle was. She is my whole world, and I love her more than I ever knew possible.
She is worth every tear, every nervous phone call, every court date. My heart breaks when I let myself think about where she could be if my husband and I hadn’t said yes. What if we had walked away, afraid of the unknown? We would have been turning our backs on this precious little girl.
Our foster child deserves someone to fight for her. She deserves to know what unconditional love feels like. She deserves to feel safe, to sleep in a warm bed, and to be well fed. She deserves every giggle, every hug, and every song that we sing together. She is an innocent child, and she deserves a chance in this world.
The most heartbreaking thing of all is that there are over 8,000 more children right now in DHS custody in the state of Oklahoma. We only have one. I know we can’t help every child, but today we choose to help her. No matter where her story takes her, I pray she remembers that to us, she was worth it. She is the reason we foster. She is the reason we are heartbroken, and she is the reason we do what we do.