Friday, May 1, 2015


When people realize I am a foster parent, there are usually two general reactions:

1. "Oh, I could never do that. I wouldn't be able to give them back."

2. "Bless you. You're such an angel for taking care of those poor little (starved/delinquent/neglected/add your adjective) kids."

1. The first implies that it is easily to "give them back".

But in some cases, it's just the opposite. Who would want to put a child back into a living situation with a person that was previously deemed unsafe? It might be safe now... but people mess up. History repeats itself. The cycle continues.

However, it is amazing to see when a family rises above their circumstances and overcomes obstacles such as domestic violence, substance abuse, chronic homelessness, and/or mental health issues. The success stories are the ones that keep social workers and foster parents in the system, trying to do the most good, trying to help families stay together.

2. The second response is pity, which I am just not fond of. I am no angel. And it almost makes it sound as if the children are to blame for what is happening to them. But what needs to be made clear is that kids go into care through NO FAULT of their own. They didn't ask to be put in foster care. They didn't want their parents to be accused of abuse, to be put in a compromising situation or make poor life choices. They didn't want to witness terrible things or live through such huge loss and tragedy at a young age.  But unfortunately, they do. Then they are put into a flawed, overworked, government-run system that is supposed to take care of their needs... That's where foster parents come into the picture.

On Attachment: We've had a placement with us for over a year. We've all gotten very attached to each other. In foster parent training classes (and in child development classes, if you take those as well), we learn about how attachments help form healthy bonds, realistic expectations, and shape a child's relationships throughout their life. When you live with a child for an extended period of time, you can't help but attach, form bonds, meet expectations, provide consistency and security, make memories together. We love our foster child as if she was our own biological child. But she isn't really ours. And one day, she might leave us. Because that's what foster means: "for a little while."

However, the healthy relationships and strong attachments she has made with us during this formative time in her life will continue to serve her well as she grows and matures. BECAUSE we have given her a safe, stable, loving place to learn, grow, and explore, she will be able to attach in healthy ways, and even thrive, when she moves on to her forever home.

THAT is why we do what we do. For the children. Not for ourselves (because my heart will break when she leaves!), but for them. Because they deserve love. EVERY child deserves a family.

**Sometimes, kids who move around a lot or who don't have consistent people in their lives have attachment disorders. This is a very real and difficult disorder to live with. I don't have personal experience (yet), but I know some parents that do. To learn more, you can watch this video:

No comments: