Sometimes, I feel like a fake.
Can I really call myself a foster Mom?
After all, we’ve been licensed for four years and have only had two placements.
One went through ICPC and moved to another state.
One we decided to disrupt and she moved to another foster home.
Yes, yes…of course in that time we have also had three biological children.
But I still feel like a fake.
I’m passionate about foster care.
But I cringe when someone recommends that I should be followed on Instagram because I’m a “foster Mom”.
It makes me feel like I can’t deliver…
I shouldn’t call myself a foster Mom because we don’t currently have any placements.
And to be honest?
We don’t plan to have any placements any time soon.
I see foster parents in my training classes or in Facebook groups online, and they mention being licensed for a handful of years and fostering 30+ kids. Yes, some of those placements were very short-term, while we have always had long term (9 months and 13 months) placements. But, still.
Many foster parents have adopted multiple children from foster care. They’ve fostered sibling groups. They’ve done more and been more.
I feel like a fake. Have I really made a difference?
I laughed out loud when our caseworker mentioned that the agency sees us as one of the best foster families they have. “US? WHY?” I asked, thinking maybe he was joking.
I’ve talked about this before, but in the foster world there are marks of “success” (adoption or reunification) and there are marks of “failure” (disruption). There is an undercurrent of comparison (mostly that I myself put on myself) and an air of who is making the biggest difference.
And it’s clearly not me.
After Heavenly left at the beginning of June, I’ve had to work through a lot of heavy and hard emotions. Feelings of guilt, of not doing enough, coupled with feelings of relief and wanting to slam the door on foster care and never let it enter my home again. I struggled with burnout and secondary trauma and hearing so many words on social media about how God calls us to do hard things and be love to the fatherless and the orphan. And yet…there I was feeling like I had failed. Asking God why this pregnancy has been so difficult, and how he could call us away from foster care when our hearts are willing, but we feel physically incapable.
And feelings of “what next?”
For the past few months, we have been leaning towards allowing our foster license to expire and closing the door on foster care (for now). We know that we will not be taking in any placements during my postpartum season, since I usually struggle a bit with depression and anxiety. We know that we want to move out of our current home and into a smaller home, possibly in a different county. We also know that our biological family is most likely not complete, and we do not want to put another foster child through a disruption just because we get pregnant again and I’m too sick to handle it. I struggle with the fear of dealing with a child with trauma and how utterly exhausting it is every moment of every day. I struggle with wondering if anyone would support us if we took in another placement.
And yet…we know too much. We know about the children who are being removed from their mothers arms right now. We know that there is MONTHS of pain and healing to come. We know that these children and their parents may not have a healthy example of what a relationship, a marriage and a family can look like. We know the caseworkers and that they are overloaded and overwhelmed. We know that so few are carrying the load of so many. We know what it looks like to hold a child through their pain, and what it looks like to share the gospel of hope with them for the first time. We know what it looks like to head towards reunification, and we know what it looks like to head towards TPR. We know what it looks like to say goodbye to a child that has been a family member for over a year. We know too much.
We could never step away from the foster care system. There is too much need, and we have too much to give.
But what does this look like?
For now, it looks like Theo and I working to keep our license renewed, but having the freedom to not have foster children in our home at this present time. It looks like working with our agency no matter what county we move to! It looks like taking it one day/one week/one month at a time, and when we feel adjusted as a family of five, perhaps taking in respite foster children for the time being.
And the most exciting part? It looks like me getting involved in a bigger support role of foster parents. If I could do anything with my spare time, it would be encouraging other foster parents and working with them to prevent the crippling burnout that I felt. That is my passion, and without me even mentioning it, our caseworker also mentioned me stepping into a similar role.
So, we are not currently foster parents. I’m still working through whether or not I am fake foster Mom. But either way, whether we continue to foster in the near future, the far future or not at all…we will continue to be involved in helping and supporting ALL OF THE PEOPLE who make up the incredibly complicated system of foster care.
Let me know if you have any questions, I would love to hear from you! I know that this has been a sensitive topic that not many people want to breach, but please feel free to ask me if you have questions 🙂