FOSTER CARE: WHEN YOU'RE ON THE FENCE
I get questions all the time from people who are on the fence about whether or not they should become a foster family.
We hear the sad stories of kids sleeping on the floor of DHS offices because they have nowhere else to go or being separated from their siblings because they can't find a home that has room for all of them.
Our hearts begin to bleed when we hear these stories. OF COURSE we want to help. What basically good human being wouldn't?
But then our logical brain starts getting to work and reality sets in and we start to talk ourselves out of it...
"Well, I'm not sure we can afford to feed another child."
"We don't have room in our home."
"Our lives are so busy right now."
"Those kids could potentially be dangerous, right?"
"What if their parents find out where we live?"
"How would it affect our biological kids?"
"What would our friends and family think?"
"What if a child were to make false claims against us?"
"It seems really hard."
"I don't know how to help kids who have experienced trauma."
and the infamous --> "I don't think I could give them back."
Now that I'm on the other side of it, it's easy for me to call those things for what they are -- excuses.
But also, I've been there. I TOTALLY get it. It's a scary and unknown world. It can and will change everything in your life. It's a big deal, and the decision shouldn't be taken lightly.
So instead of berating you and making you feel bad for having hesitations, I want to share with you the things that helped us overcome our own hesitations, which essentially all boils down to one thing: exposure.
For several years prior to us becoming foster parents, I had followed a few accounts focused on foster care, but about a year before we finally jumped in I dove headfirst into exposing myself to the foster care world.
I listened to podcasts, read books, and followed foster parents and former foster youth on social media. And it helped. It really did. Once I understood it more and heard stories of people who were in that realm, it made it seem more tangible to me -- like maybe I could do this after all.
- The Connected Child by Karen D. Purvis and David R. Cross
- The Connected Parent by Lisa Qualls and Karen D. Purvis
- Another Place At The Table by Kathy Harrison
- Honestly Adoption by Mike Berry and Kristin Berry
- Foster The Family by Jamie Finn
- Jaymi Lynn (@familyandcoffee on Instagram)
- Bethany Anne (@bethanyanne42 on Instagram)
- Amber (@fostering_family12 on Instagram)
- Tina Bauer (@tinaa_bauerr on Instagram)
- Tori Petersen (@torihopepetersen on Instagram)
- Real Life Foster Mom (on Facebook)
- Trauma Informed Parent (on Facebook)
- Jason Johnson Blog (on Facebook)
I consumed the things written and spoken about by these people for months and months. It made the whole idea of "becoming a foster family," which once felt similar to the idea of "becoming an alien family," feel much less alien.
You see, through exposing myself to real people in the foster care world and their real-life stories, I realized those who were foster parents were mostly just like me at one point -- interested and hesitant, and those who were former foster youth were once a lot like any other child -- not scary at all, just in need of someone to love and care for them.
Becoming a foster family has been the most worthwhile thing I have ever done in my life. Has it been hard? Yeah. Actually, wayyyy harder than I ever imagined it would be. But worthwhile? 1000%. If I could go back, I'd say yes all over again, and I hope you do too.