Boy, have I ever learned a lot since I became a foster parent.
My husband and I became foster parents almost two years ago. We are getting ready to renew our two year fostering license next month, which means we are about to start our third year as foster parents. My way of thinking about fostering has changed so much.
As can be expected, I had a pretty idealized idea of how foster parenting would be. I thought that our home would be a home where we would be able to take any foster child and help them. I thought that our home would be a home where we would take a child and provide a home for them until they went back to their parents, until they graduated, etc.
I certainly never thought that we would have any child for only a few months and then say that we needed a break. Not us! Not me.
But I was wrong. I have renewed respect for anyone who takes on the responsibility of raising someone else’s child or children, be it a stepchild, foster child, or some other type of situation.
Living with someone new in your home is hard. Raising kids is hard. Raising kids who aren’t your own kids, who haven’t grown up with your family, in your home, with your rules, with your expectations, etc, is even harder. Add to that a child who has had a traumatic life and who has difficult behaviors to deal with. It makes life downright exhausting.
The way that this has affected my view of being a foster parent is that I now realize that some children will not be in my care until they no longer need a home. Some children will only be in my care while I have the energy to be a good foster parent to them.
I’m sure that this sounds very callous to anyone who has no experience with fostering. But the truth is that some fostering situations take a lot more of a person’s heart, soul, and energy than they can dish out long term.
I’ve realized that I can only do the best job that I can do for as long as I can do it. In certain situations, that will be short term. In other situations, that will be long term.
It makes me sad for the foster children who are moved from home to home. There are a lot of them. It is heartbreaking when a child calls you mom or mommy just because that child is at your house for a few days. That is a child who doesn’t really know what it is to have a normal family with a normal mom or dad.
Some days are really hard. Some days are great. When it comes down to it, you just have to do the best that you can do. When you are no longer able to deal with a certain child and their behaviors or a situation, you sometimes have to decide to ask for a child to be moved to another home.
It’s hard. Thank goodness for the good days when you can see that you’re helping a child.