Being a foster parent isn’t about saying good-bye to kids all the time. It’s not about adult feelings getting hurt, if people approve of the background and history of the kids you bring into your home or if everyone is getting enough sleep. Foster parents can’t spend their days and nights worrying about what strangers think when they see a parent teaching a child self-control or self-discipline. You can’t give these kids what they need and stay in your comfort zone. Foster parents aren’t perfect.
Being a foster parent is about being a vessel for God. Showing mercy while teaching kids what healthy family looks like, how to have healthy relationships. Teaching kids how to not worry about grown up stuff. That they don’t have to take care of their siblings anymore. The mom of this house will do the diaper changing and the cooking. Having those hard real conversations about why this has happened and how to trust God with the things they are going through in their life. Teaching kids self-control and discipline. Teaching kids about expectations and possibilities.
When people first hear that we are foster parents they either look to judge us or give us the line, “I could never do that. I could never let them go”. There are times when the good-byes come way to fast, but other times there is so much work to be done that you don’t need to worry about the good-byes right now.
This is hard. Knowing you will not get a thank you and they will not appreciate what you have done for them. They are kids. No matter the circumstances or the history, they are kids. They will pout when they feel as though you haven’t given them enough food because they don’t remember what it was like living at home when they had no food. They cry for more food because their brain doesn’t register that they are full. They will get mad when they have to strip the clothes off their bed because they wet it last night and cleaning the bedding is not their normal. The attitude will come when you check that they have done basics like brush their teeth correctly and used proper personal hygiene. Worrying every time you leave them with someone new if they will use proper judgement. When their first instinct is to guess on homework just to get it done and you have to sit at the table 3-4 hours a night to get them to understand why it’s important to learn this stuff.
You are teaching them a new normal. The thank you comes in the form of something new being learned. The face lit up with excitement because they get it. All the experiences they get to have through you. When the report cards come home and they have gotten merit roll for the first time in their lives. Hugging and kissing them good night because you are the only momma to do that for them now. Reminding yourself that the little time with you may or may not change the things they learned incorrectly. Hoping the talks you have had about the opportunities they will have sticks long after they move out of your house.
Having to think about the possible causes of a child’s behavior before you react and give a punishment. Is there a trauma bringing out the behavior that is in front of me? Or is this just a kid being a kid? Needing to talk about the job trusted to them. Someone who needs guidance and a family who will give them what they need without worrying about good-byes.