As you may or may not know, this month is National Foster Care Month! Because of this fact, I thought it would be a good time to discuss why I chose to be a foster parent. While my home is currently closed, foster care still holds a very big piece of my heart and I do plan to be a foster parent again in the future.
Unlike many stories you may have heard, I did not go into foster care with the intent to adopt. My mom was a foster parent when I was a teenager and I fell in love with each and every one of those children that came through our home. It broke my heart to see the abuse, neglect, and heartache that those innocent children had endured. How could the world be so cruel?
The idea of becoming a caseworker weighed heavily on my heart but as time passed, I realized that I was called to do more–I was called to love these kids like they were my own. When I turned 21, I immediately started the process to become a foster parent (filling out paperwork, background checks, references, and training classes) and after the process was complete, I was blessed with the sweetest little girl I had ever laid my eyes on.
Everyone always asked me how I would be able to give her up–they just assumed that I was going to keep her. What people often fail to realize is that the goal of foster care is not to put the children up for adoption–the goal is to reunite the children with their families; if that is not a viable option, then the possibility of adoption will be assessed. My response always was and always will be, “my job is to love him/her while I have them and show them what a safe, loving home feels like.”
My hope is that the precedent I set (a safe, loving home) will continue when they are returned to their family through the bridge process; but, regardless, my job is to love them as if I will never lose them. Yes, I have had my heart broken many times (more than 30 times if you want to get specific) and I still worry about “my kids” every day; but, I can live with a broken heart knowing that I made a difference in those precious, innocent lives. While I will never know the outcome for some of “my kids,” I have been blessed to keep in contact with many of the families throughout the years.
These kids may not remember me 10 years from now, a year from now, or even tomorrow, but I will never forget about them. Each and every one of them will always live in my heart.
Please use this month as an opportunity to be an advocate for the 400,000+ children and youth in foster care!
If you are interested in helping on a local level, there are many organizations who generously provide for foster families and foster children that I know would appreciate your assistance!