The news isn’t always good about foster parents like me.
Perhaps you read in the news about the foster parent who abused their foster child or about the infant who died in foster care. Let’s be honest. There is a bad apple in every barrel in every corner of society. We both know that those bad apples spoil an entire barrel.
That applies to some foster parents.
As a foster parent of 14 years of over 50 children, this type of news brings tears to my eyes and heartache to my soul.
Now, you know that our media focuses on these stories to shine the light on those stories focused on the horrible and shocking. You might think that all foster parents are bad people and are in it for the money, that they don’t care about the children in their homes.
I am not that kind of foster parent.
When a child from foster care comes into my family home, they become a part of my family and an important part of my home. In my house, there is no difference between one of my biological, adoptive, or foster children. In truth, there are no labels. They are indeed all my children. I love each child with as much compassion as I can possibly give. I am like that mamma bear who fights for her cubs; I fight for my foster children with all that I have. It doesn’t always make me popular with the case workers, birth parents, or the court system. Yet, that is no matter. These are my children and I will fight with all I have to protect them, ensure they have all they need, and that they are loved.
For a foster child who may have been abused or neglected, this love is most important. Without this love, a foster child will not form the necessary, healthy attachment with others, resulting in any number of attachment disorders. Emotional difficulties such as a lack of self-worth, trust, and the need to be in control often result in the lack of unconditional and healthy parental love. As anyone who has worked with foster children will tell you, most foster children face emotional issues, many times stemming from the lack of healthy love.
Before I was a foster parent, I had misconceptions about foster parents and foster children. I thought that the children were “bad kids” and that the foster parents were “weird people.” Well, I was wrong about the children; the children that come to my home are only seeking someone to love them in a healthy fashion. What I was right about is the foster parents: We do need to be just a little “weird,” in order to do what we do. It is a difficult job, at times, and we do make certain sacrifices in order to care for these children in need.
To be sure, the vast majority of foster parents I meet are the same way. We care for these children because we DO care. Is it easy? Not always. Do we see signs of reward? Many times the answer is no.
Do others place false assumptions and judgments upon us, foster parents? All the time. Not just strangers but sometimes my friends and family members. I have found that the general society does not really understand or appreciate what foster care is about. They do not realize what foster children go through each day, nor what foster parents go through.
Sure, my heart breaks when they leave. I am not a super hero. I do grieve when they leave my family.
Yet, these children need someone to hurt for them. They need someone to protect them. These children need someone to care for them and provide stability. These children need someone to love them. These children need me. I am that foster parent.