When we first became foster parents three long, long months ago I thought I knew how hard it would be.  I thought I was strong enough and I thought that a lot of the things that make foster parenting hard for other people would be easier for me because of my ability to disconnect. I thought it would be difficult for me to bond closely with children who aren’t my own, who I am not related to in any way.

I thought a lot of things.

And I sorely underestimated the toll being a foster parent could take on a person.

We’re still so very new at this but I have learned so, so much in these past 3 1/2 months.  Here is a rundown of the reality of the hardness of being a foster parent.  Keep in mind that my heart has been freshly ripped out of my chest so, while I’ve tried to keep this diplomatic in tone, my emotions might be working against me.

  • There are many good caseworkers but they are seriously overworked and often find it easier to just tell you what they think you want to hear instead of letting you in on what is really going on because it is faster and they don’t always have time for a whole big ordeal of a conversation.
  • Guardian ad Litems, the child advocates, are often overlooked by the judge.
  • Don’t believe everything you hear.  We were told less than a week prior to our last foster child moving that we may be looking at adoption so…
  • When you put your foster child to bed always expect it to be the last time you get to tuck them in because one day you’re Mama and the next day you’re a person the child used to know.  We had 6 hours from the time we learned our last foster child was leaving to the time she was picked up. 6 hours.
    She was 2.
  • Secondary trauma is very real.
  • Once the child is moved away from a foster home, the foster parents are, more often than not, completely cut off. I get no response when I ask how a child is doing and I have read that this is a common occurrence. Maybe this is a legal thing, I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. The reality is that we’re just cut off.  After loving and caring for a child through all their trauma behaviors and communication barriers, they’re often moved with very little or no notice and then we’re just completely cut off.
  • Being with family is always better for the child.  Even when it’s not.  And even when it seems it’s not, it still might be the best thing for the child.  This is super difficult to wrap my mind around because…
  • I was given false information about some people who were in the life of one of our foster children. When I learned I was being lied to it broke my heart because it caused so much unnecessary trauma to the child.  So, again, don’t believe everything you hear which is why…
  • Always go to court when possible. If the social worker tells you not to he/she may be trying to hide something. Consider going anyway or sending a friend. This is the only way to know what is really going on.
  • People really do believe that foster parents are only in it for the money.
  • Some foster parents do take advantage of others’ generosity.  This is sad and keeps people from giving.  However, this does not mean they are only in it for the money. Sometimes a financial break is too enticing when you’re tired, stressed, and beat down by trying to help traumatized children in a system that is so completely broken.
  • As foster parents, we have absolutely no control. Our job is to love and protect the children as best we can each moment they are in our care. That’s all we can do…
  • But in those moments that’s everything.

If you’re in the Pensacola area and are interested in being a foster parent please don’t hesitate to contact me. I know I didn’t make it sound very enticing and foster parents are closing their doors at alarming rates because it is just so hard. We’re judged harshly, lied to, left out, cut off, and in the end all that’s left of our work is a slowly mending heart and another child in need. But even after all these things I listed, it is still so worth it. The system is all messed up but while these kids are in our homes we can hopefully make some kind of change.


P.S.  I feel like I should add here that this was not necessarily a bad move for our foster kid. She’s now with a family member who worked quite hard to get her and loves her very much. But the way the system worked, the whole process, was definitely less than ideal and caused unnecessary trauma to everyone involved, especially the sweet foster child. I am not sad that she is with her family, I’m just sad about how the whole thing happened.

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Filed under: foster careGod is.

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