Written by Shelby, Foster and Adoptive Mom
My name is Shelby, my husband and I are foster parents and we are passionate about foster care.
When we say we are passionate about foster care, we mean we are passionate about these children, their families, and our community. It means that there is no way we could walk away from foster care, there’s undoubtedly a need, and we have proven to ourselves that we are capable. It means we don’t dust off our feet and hide from the hard – the kids cannot – and so we stay in the trenches with them.
Foster care is hard, it’s heart wrenching, it’s ugly, and it pushes us to limits we didn’t even know that we had. But it’s worth it. It’s worth the nights I can’t sleep because I feel like worry is crushing my chest, the countless prayers I whisper for these babies to be safe, the times I sat with the birth families and rooted for them, the awkwardness of talking about the ‘hard stuff’ & their past mistakes, and the many tears I’ve shed. It’s worth the questions: “am I enough?”, “can I keep going?”. Because the answer is yes. One day it may be a hearty shout and one day it may be a faint whisper but the answer is always yes. Because, the children are worth it; and because even with all its hard, foster care is redeeming and beautiful.
I had many fears and preconceive notions before entering foster care. One of them was the fear of getting too attached. Many people warned us, asked us how we would be able to handle when a child leaves, asked us “are you sure?”. My biggest fear was that what these people, these friends (that were all well-meaning) were putting in my head was true. Could I really say goodbye, and if I could, did that mean I didn’t love the child enough?
I soon found the answer. Being able to get ‘too attached’ was exactly what these children need. They deserve to get all of me – all of my heart, all of my effort, all of me as a mom. I don’t and I can’t hold them at arms length for the sake of keeping my own heart protected – because it’s not about me, it’s about them. Although, saying goodbye is never easy – I’d go through the heartache of a goodbye a million times over again for being there at that hello.
I want the world to know that we are in so many ways are a ‘normal’ and complete family – just looks a little different than most. Our family includes children we have adopted, children currently with us, children that have been reunified, and many of their birth families. The number in our house grows, it shrinks, & it rarely stays the same – but we are a family. We struggle, we soar, we laugh, and we have sorrow, just like your family. Family is a choice and we choose every day to be one.
Foster care has taught me so many things. It’s taught me to be more gracious, because I truly have no idea what someone might be suffering through. It has taught me about the deep need for connection and attachment and the very real troubles if those basic needs aren’t adequately met. It’s proven to me more than ever that love is an action. It’s an active choice we make every second of every day. Foster care has taught me the importance of caring for the families affected and helping them rise up as well. And ultimately, foster care has taught me that we all need to come together if we truly want to change what we’re seeing.
Finally, when you turn on your news or scroll through Facebook and see a drug busts, a car crash, a robbery, a homicide – there are usually children who will feel the ripple effect. They will be faced with an uncertain future, their world will be shifted, they will be scared, alone, traumatized. What happens next? This is the gap. Foster parents fill that gap. We stand with one hand reaching out to their family the children are now being separated from, and with the other hand we gently hold theirs. We need more people willing to stand in that gap. There simply aren’t enough good foster homes and the ramifications of that are horrific. So, the next time you see a news article circling around Facebook don’t just click the share button with the praying hands emoji – let’s put our words into actions and be the ones to reach out and pull up.