My husband and I became foster parents earlier this year. We did not enter into this journey lightly; in fact, we spent years going back and forth on this topic before finally deciding to go for it.
To be honest, the idea of bringing foster kids into our home always felt daunting, a lot like anything unknown usually does.
Our reasons for becoming foster parents have changed over the years. Initially, it seemed like a wonderful way to raise children and potentially adopt another child or two (we are parents to a 10-year-old). After tossing that back and forth for a while, we came to the realization that adoption wasn’t really our thing, and we put foster care on the back burner.
It feels like you rarely hear stories about people going into foster care to do anything but potentially adopt, so it didn’t occur to us that there might be other paths out there. (You also rarely hear stories about foster parents who aren’t religious. Since we aren’t believers in anything but Bob Dylan and magic, we were doubly unsure if this was the thing for us.)
After we moved back to Tennessee in 2018, the idea resurfaced. This time, becoming foster parents felt like a really incredible way to help reunify families who need guidance and support. We still didn’t really know if a lot of people go into foster care for that purpose, so we signed up for classes and went to check it out.
It turns out that (thankfully), yes, lots of people become foster parents with the goal of reunifying families. But when reunification is genuinely your goal, the onus of responsibility falls on you, the foster parent, to do everything you can to make that happen.
Once our kiddos moved in, we quickly realized two things: (1) Their mom would need every bit of help and support we could give her, and (2) giving that help and support would be one of the hardest things we would do. It’s one thing to raise children with an ex whom you at least liked a little bit once upon a time; the birth mom of your foster kids is someone who is entirely shrouded in mystery.
We have learned quite a few solid lessons throughout our time as foster parents, and I’m sharing them today in hopes that they will help others who find themselves headed down a similar path.