By Sometimes Mom
In honor of National Foster Care Awareness Month, I’d like to share some of the reasons why I’m proud to be a foster parent (and why you might make a great one, too!
1. The need for good foster homes
There are over 420,000 children currently in foster care in the United States so the need for licensed foster parents is truly desperate. Lack of available foster homes can lead to kids going “night to night” in different homes, siblings being separated, foster homes being at or over capacity and tons of other issues. Once you’ve seen a glimpse of that world, it is hard to pretend it doesn’t exist. Many people have never been exposed to the foster care system, for some, it has never even crossed their mind. Increasing awareness around foster care can only lead to a more supportive community and hopefully inspire more people to become foster parents.
Being a foster parent is certainly hard work, but there is really nothing special about me other than the fact that I have a little extra space in my home and a LOT of extra space in my heart. If that sounds like you, then maybe you’re meant to foster too!
2. You Can Make a Difference for a Child (or many!)
Many of my former foster kids will probably forget me in time, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had a lasting impact on their lives. The fact that I was so attached to them, and in turn, their attachment to me, is a huge win! Being removed from their parents is traumatic for a child but if they can develop healthy attachments with their foster parents, that is so important for their development. That’s why I’m never afraid to get too attached, I consider it the mark of a job well done.
Beyond attachment, my job is to advocate for the kids in in my care and sometimes that means identifying the need for services. I have seen such progress with my former kiddos and love being able to celebrate these small victories with them. Awhile back, we had a baby boy come to us who was developmentally delayed and very stoic, he showed no affect at all. When he finally started smiling and laughing, I cried happy tears! Later, we got to witness him learn to crawl, take his first steps and begin talking. I will never forget these moments and I am honored to have contributed to his growth and development at such an important stage in life.
3. Help Restore a Family
My most difficult days have been saying goodbye to our foster children, but those are some of the most sacred and beautiful days, too. The struggles that many families have overcome to get their children back is something that I can’t always relate to but have developed empathy and admiration for throughout this process. My hope is that parents will always see me as an ally in wanting the best for them and their children. I have had parents thank me, cry with me, and even share stories of being in foster care themselves. Fostering is often a thankless job, but these are the precious words I hold onto, the words that keep me going on this journey.
4. Expand Your Horizons
It is my hope that every child who enters our home will get to experience new opportunities but in turn, I learn so much more from them. I am a more empathetic, thoughtful and patient person than when I started this journey over two years ago. When I began fostering, I thought I would be helping children and that is still my primary goal, but my eyes have been opened to the systemic issues that cause a child to be in care in the first place. Gradually, I have become more compassionate to situations where I previously might have passed judgment. And let’s face it, the world could probably use a little more compassion.
5. Lifelong Connections
Loss is a part of foster care at its core, but when done right, there is far more gained. In some cases, we have been lucky enough to remain in a child’s life after they have reunified with their biological family, and even been welcomed into that family ourselves. A child can never have too many people to love and support them and I have seen firsthand, the beauty that comes from foster parents and biological parents coming together over the shared loved of a child. As the saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child” and it is a privilege to be part of that village.
There are so many reasons to foster and SO many children in need of safe, loving homes. If fostering is something you’re interested in, Jake’s Kid's has resources (state by state) to become a foster parent