Things I’m Learning as a Foster Parent

I have a lot of thoughts tumbling around in my head on this 5 week mark of becoming a foster parent. I’m always learning, and I just thought I would jot down a couple things that I am learning about being a foster parent…

  1. I’m selfish. This is self-explanatory. Do you remember when you got married, and one day it hit you…I’m so selfish. And then the same thing happened when you had a kid? Well, it seems that each time it gets progressively worse, and having a foster child in my home has revealed to me how incredibly selfish and sin-filled I am. For example, I so desire to share her picture, her story, her life with all of my friends. But when I really sit back and think about doing that…it’s all for me. It’s all for me. On top of all that, I’m learning how little patience I actually have and how incredibly difficult it is to sacrifice myself for the sake of this child and her family. And, really…to get nothing in return. Nothing at all. That hurts my heart, and it shows me deep down how incredibly selfish I cam. I think if I could sum up what I’ve learned in one thing, it would be that. I’m selfish.
  2. I’m basically a glorified chauffeur. And bookkeeper.
    I mean, I knew this was a part of being a foster parent. Driving the child to appointment after appointment after appointment. I have counted out the monthly appointments that we have for Little Miss, and we have between 12-15 a month. That’s at least 3 a week, folks. Three weekdays I’m driving all over our area for one appointment or another. And don’t even get me started on the paperwork. I have to have a signature and a record of every single appointment, as well as tracking the daily accomplishments of a child. Basically, I spend a lot of time being Mom. But I also spent a huge majority in the car or with a pen and paper in my hand doing paperwork.
  3. Parenting is parenting.
    If you have read this blog for any time at all, you know that I am completely honest about being a parent. It’s not for the faint of heart. It has it’s wonderful moments and it has it’s not so wonderful moments. And it’s the same with fostering a child. So often I think we focus on the stereotype of foster children being “difficult”. But in reality, all children are difficult sometimes! When it comes down to it, besides the chauffeuring and the paperwork, foster care is all grunt work. Same as with being a regular ‘ol biological parent.
  4. I struggle with living in fear.
    This one is hard to admit, because it really opens you up to one of the not-so-common difficulties of being a foster parent. It’s all the “what ifs”. What if I accidentally drop her and we get our license revoked and an investigation to our suitability to parent Tera? What if she gets sick and we get blamed for it somehow? Basically, I feel like there is not a lot of wiggle room for something to go “wrong”. But things go wrong all the time, so what then? I don’t really have any answers for these questions, as I obviously still struggle with it. But there it is. I struggle with living in fear.
  5. It’s good for us to be uncomfortable.
    Foster care is not comfortable. It’s a lot of sacrifice. It’s a lot of work. It’s hard. (Kind of like being a parent- see #3 above). But I think that one HUGE lie Satan tells our Christian American culture is that we should be comfortable. Happiness = comfortable. But it actually doesn’t. Nowhere in Scripture does it support pursuing comfort. In fact, it often does the opposite. Sure, it’s really hard. It’s also not for everybody. But we are learning that when we throw aside “comfort” to live in the midst of God’s will, it is actually comfortable. Not in an earthly way, but in a way that is really difficult to explain. Would it be easier to not have foster kids in our home? Yep, you betcha. However, we truly believe that God does not call us to easy. He just calls us.
  6. I struggle with the things I didn’t expect. So this one is also hard. People always ask me if it will be hard to “give her back”. Well, I’m sure it will, but that is not what I struggle with the most. It will be a bittersweet moment if I have to give her back to her Momma. But it will be sweet to realize that Mom has worked hard and will be raising the child that she bore. I can totally get on board with giving her back to her Mom. The thing that is most difficult is that “the plan” seems to change week to week, day to day. On Monday we will be planning on getting her back to her Mom. On Tuesday, it will seem more like Mom’s rights will be terminated and Little Miss will be up for adoption. And that is hardest part for me. Do I plan for her? Do I not? And even if she is up for adoption there is not guarantee that she will be ours, as there is some distantly related kin who also want to adopt her. Now, giving her over to some random people who haven’t spent any time with her at all? That would be hard for me.
  7. We cannot do this alone.
    So much help came in the first two weeks, and it was wonderful. As that help has kind of trickled down/fizzled out, I want to get up on top of my roof and shout out: “WE STILL NEED HELP!!!!”. I need help everyday. Prayers, meals, a phone call to know that there is life out there, a huge glass of soda because I need caffeine. Oh, please…anything to let me know that I’m not doing this entirely alone. (This is not to say that people are not still helping us. It’s just not as prevalent as at the beginning). Honestly, guys….we cannot do this alone. We just can’t.  I need you!. Theo needs you! Our girls need you!
  8. I’m really, really selfish.
    Well, I thought I needed to leave this on in here twice. Because it’s twice as true. See #1 for explanation.

2 comments

  1. Nancy says:

    Another truly excellent post. Thanks for sharing so honestly. It seems that a lot of foster care is that you are there to advocate for somebody who can’t do it for themselves (hence the appointments and the paperwork). I was also thinking that if you are taking a lot of pictures of her that is a great gift to pass on to her future parents as they are missing a lot right now and when she grows up she will really want to see baby pictures of herself.

  2. Kelli {A Deeper Joy} says:

    Suzanne, thank you for this! #5…yes! I feel like I know all of these but even knowing them, doesn’t even prepare me of what our future holds. And if you were in Texas, I’d totally be there for you. We’re building up a good support system before we even get kids but I do fear it dropping off after the first few weeks. Some are other foster parents though and I know they get it. Know that you’re loving these kids for the Lord and through the difficulty, He’s using you for His good 🙂

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