I haven’t written about our foster journey in a while. It’s been a wild ride. Today, I wanted to talk about 4 ways that you can support foster parents.
We’ve been foster parents for 6 years now. I always think, some day this will get easier. Some days are easier, but there are parts of the journey that are never easy.
I often put off writing about foster care because it’s something I really struggle with. I prefer to inspire and encourage people. Often, I worry that if I write something that is less than sunshine and rainbows that someone may decide not to be a foster parent.
However, the turnover rate for foster parents is 30-50%. As the need for foster homes continues to increase, the number of homes is decreasing. With a turnover rate this high, I know for a fact, it is because fostering is much harder than anyone anticipates.
Foster parents face all the demands of parenting extra children in their home along with the stresses of the system including regulations, court, biological parent visitation, and excessive amounts of medical appointments and therapies.
It’s time consuming. There have been weeks that we had 6-7 foster care related appointments. The sheer amount of time spent can be overwhelming.
In addition, the children often have behaviors. I’ve read a lot of books, done a lot of research online, and spent a lot of time talking to professionals about the behaviors of our foster kids. The real frustration is that once you think you have those behaviors managed, a small change in the child’s life can bring them right back to square one again.
For me, the most difficult thing about fostering is the uncertainty (You can read more about that here). It’s hard not knowing what is going to happen. Last summer, we were told that our girls would be transitioning back home to live with their biological mom by Christmas. That didn’t happen.
The whole case kind of stagnated and we didn’t know what was happening for a long time. Then, things changed this month and suddenly, we are looking at the possibility of adoption. We would love that, but there’s never any certainty in foster care until the case is closed.
It’s definitely hard on those of us who are emotional. These sweet little girls have been with us for 2 years now. I can’t imagine the heartache our family will endure if they leave us after all this time. We are family through and through.
What can you do to help?
I recognize that not everyone is able to foster. However, everyone is able to help. We need to support foster parents on this journey and find ways to encourage foster parents. As a society, we can slow the foster parent turnover rate.
First of all, let’s value foster parents. Always assume they are fostering with a pure heart and pure intentions. Push the foster parent stereotypes out of your head and assume the good in people, because the majority of us really are doing it for the sake of the kids.
Second, let’s assist foster parents. Ask them “How can I make this journey easier for you?” What do foster parents need most? Honestly, what we need most is a date night and a gift card (for all those unexpected expenses!)
I’ve been hugely encouraged by people who step up to babysit for my family when we have appointments or to provide a much needed date night. Additionally, we’ve been blessed by gifts of clothing, diapers, bottles, and toys for our kids.
Let’s encourage foster parents with our words. If you see a large family, give them a smile (not gawk at the number of children with them). If you know someone is fostering, encourage them with your words. Some of us need that encouragement to get us through this rough journey.
The primary goal of foster care is to help biological parents work through issues, so that their children can return home. The goal of foster care is not adoption, so to support foster parents, remember that they are dealing with a unique situation that is very much out of their control. Prayers are needed. Prayers for the kids and peace for our families. Pray without ceasing for the foster families in your life.
I admit, I still have days when I ask my husband, “Has the chaos that foster care has imposed upon our life been worth it?”
He reminds me that this is the wrong question.
Fostering is not about us. It never was and never will be. Foster care is about serving, loving on others, and being the one constant in a child’s life when they are going through a really hard time.
Let’s work together to slow the foster parent turnover rate. What can you do to support foster parents?
Dealing with Uncertainty
Fostering with Biological Children