Starting on the foster journey? Welcome.
There is no greater honor and responsibility that we as humans have than to love another human being. Many parents experience a new intensity of love and a sense of attachment as they watch a tiny human being enter the world.
Fostering is like giving birth, but perhaps more like a surrogate.
You carry are responsible for making sure that the child is safe, well taken care, and loved, but knowing that one day you and the child will no longer be one. For those of you who are fostering to adopt, you understand that the gravity of the weight that you carry knowing that the only reason your foster son and daughter will become yours is because their parents were not able to be the parents that they need.
Foster parenting is not for the faint of heart.
The cycle of attachment and loss can wear us down quickly. The number of administrative tasks and coordination on top of other responsibilities that come with fostering can be overwhelming at times. Those who are working within the system as social workers, lawyers, judges, and therapists experience high rate of burn out and frustration as they deal with the cracks within the system. The frustration that comes with dealing with the inefficiency of the system can be maddening. I understand. I have felt all of them at some point or another in my fostering journey.
But, despite the frustrations, some continue to foster. Yes, there are those who only do it for the money. However, there are many who foster because they genuinely want to make a difference in a child’s life and believe that every child deserves a chance to thrive. Many of the kids in the foster system have experienced tremendous obstacles and bumps in their short span of life. We want these children to enter stability, to begin the process of healing, and to find a safe haven believing that they deserve a chance.
January 22, 2015 is a date that I will remember for a long time.
It is the date we received our first foster placement. To me it feels a little like the date that I gave birth as a surrogate. At 7:30pm, we welcomed into our home and into our hearts twin eight-month-olds. We had the privilege of loving them for a period of time until they were reunified with their mom. Although they left our home, they have not left our hearts.
Since then, we have had three other placements. In our almost three years of beginning this journey of fostering, six precious children have come and gone. I wanted to take some time to discuss 10 valuable lessons I learned about becoming an effective foster parent. I have had my share of frustrations, exhaustion, joys, and challenges, but I am so thankful for the opportunities of growth I and my family have had. If we didn’t foster, we would not have grown in the ways we have as individuals and as a family.
I will be posting one lesson at a time through out the next few weeks. Each lesson will go more in depth with stories and tips on navigating the foster system for your effectiveness. Check back here for updated link. Or you can subscribe to this blog and you should receive the blog in your email inbox when I post!
Ten Lessons Learned in Becoming Effective Foster Parents:
- Know thyself – limitations and capacity
- Get comfortable with ambiguity and ask for clarity
- How to get and keep the support you need in fostering
- You are an advocate, not just a foster parent
- Establish a healthy working relationship with social worker and biological parents
- Be ready to have your flexibility and adaptability tested
- Work hard on establishing clear structure and routines
- Find ways to bond with your foster child
- Have a realistic expectation: foster is and will be hard.
- Be renewed each day.