My husband and I have been licensed foster parents for about 1 1/2 years now. To say it’s been a roller coaster is an understatement. You can read about our Intense Weekend & 7 Ways You Can Help Foster Families from last year. I also shared about our Emotional Roller Coaster Weekend with three girls we had been hoping to adopt. From both of those posts, it’s easy to see that foster care is a crazy journey. Yet, we still feel that God is calling us here at this time in our lives. So we press forward. But I wanted to share with you the emotional realities of foster care and let you know they are completely normal!
Foster Care Is An Emotional Journey
No matter the reason for doing foster care, it’s an emotional journey. From losing a placement we had been told was going to be ours forever to struggling with REALLY hard cases. I’ve laughed and cried and cried some more. However, the journey is also so rewarding too.
A New Placement
We just got a call for our first hospital placement. Honestly, this has been the call I’ve been waiting for since we got licensed. I absolutely adore babies so a newborn felt like a good age for me. However, there is so much more to it than that.
8 Emotional Realities Of Foster Care
- Excitement: Honestly, this is probably the first thing I feel. We did get licensed to help out children and families in need. Without that call, it can’t happen.
- Fear: The “oh my goodness what am I getting myself into” mode kicks in. Because honestly, you just never know what issues will be coming through that door. From a drug-exposed newborn to an abused older child, the unknowns are big.
- Sadness: Then it hits you. Yes, YOUR family is growing. At least for a time. But that means that another family will be without their child(ren). Another mother is losing her baby. I can’t imagine what she’s going through at that moment. The reality of that hits hard. Posted by a birth mom to her Facebook page:
- Work Mode: Whenever a possible call comes in, I tend to start cleaning. I want a welcoming and organized environment for any foster children who cross our threshold.
- Shock: Once the confirmation call comes in that this placement isn’t falling through because many times they do, (Family may step forward or the county may decide to work with the parents without pulling the children. ) I tend to have a moment of shock that this is really happening…again.
- Scramble: Now that you know the kids are coming, it’s time to rush around and gather clothes and toys in their sizes. I have to dig bins out of our crawl space and set up my Joovy playard. More often than not, kids come with the clothes on their backs and little else.
- Frustration: Sometimes, after the kids show up, frustration creeps in. I’ve been handed kids for weeks at a time without a shred of paperwork. Getting answers is almost impossible. Timelines are unknown. And frustration over the fact that these children have lived in less than ideal situations.
- Regret: Now this emotion may not happen with every placement. However, when the going gets tough, it’s so easy to fall into regret and a desire to just quit.
Our First Newborn
So as I picked up this sweet little boy from the hospital, my emotions were all over the board. But what foster parents need to know is that they are not alone. I’ve joined some online foster parent groups and the best thing I’ve learned is that everything above is completely normal.
As I brought “Clark” (not his real name but the nurse was accidentally calling him that because she thought it was) back home, I began the scramble to get things ready. Since I had to leave minutes after receiving the call because he was being discharged, I didn’t have time to prep beforehand. Out came the bins of clothes as I try to find anything that will fit.
Peace Of Mind
For now, all is well. I know that baby is safe. The case plan is set in motion. And I pray that we can be a blessing to this family as they walk through their struggles. Another journey has begun.
Learn More About The Foster World
You may also be interested in learning the Best And Worst Parts Of Being A Foster Parent, based off our experiences to date. And I’ve also written about Frequently Asked Questions That Foster Parents Hear as there is a lot of curiosity about this topic.