Myths and Joys of Being a Foster Parent
Are you thinking about becoming a foster parent?
Has God planted that whisper in your heart, too?
I’d like to share some of the myths and some of the joys that I’ve experienced as a foster mom—by far my favorite “job” that I’ve ever had.
Myths of being a foster parent
Myth: Foster kids are bad kids—they are in foster care because their parents couldn’t handle their behaviors, and they will probably burn down my house and kill my dog.
My truth: these kids have experienced significant trauma and have complex needs. They are children who need help processing scary things they don’t understand. They need the opportunity to build healthy relationships with safe, loving adults so they can grow and develop appropriately. They are children who need additional support.
Myth: The kids come from bad families that engage in all sorts of illegal behavior.
My truth: I love my children’s biological families, and I have very good relationships with them. I’m thankful for the love, support, and grace they have offered me as we walk this journey together. No parent wants to have their child taken away and placed into another person's home, even if it is what’s best at that time. Many biological parents will tell you that having their kids was the best thing to ever happen to them. Imagine for a second how it would feel to be in their shoes, seeing their child placed in a different home.
Myth: The kids will be thankful and grateful for what I’m doing for them.
My truth: Sort of. Most people love their biological family despite any weaknesses or struggles they have. My foster kids do too. And so, yes, while they are sometimes glad to be here with me, they also mourn living apart from the family they know. It’s not a competition of which family they love more—it’s a partnership between adults to give the help that is needed in order to work toward reunification.
Myth: You will be alone in this journey.
My truth: I’m afraid to list all the people who have supported and encouraged me and my family for fear of leaving someone out, but I will try: case workers, therapists, doctors, teachers, other foster parents, our county foster care coordinator, our Family Care Team through Kingdom Workers, our church family, our relatives, and our friends. We have been tremendously blessed with so many people to love our foster children and to lift us all up in prayer.
Myth: It will be easy.
My truth: Ha! I used to think I was extremely patient. Nope, I was so wrong! But God is faithful. And bedtime comes every night, and we get a fresh start every morning.
Myth: It’s too expensive.
My truth: We receive a state stipend to cover the basic needs of the children. There are some expenses we choose to pay for out of pocket, like paying school tuition for our foster children to attend parochial school. While we are careful with our money, we are still able to do fun things with the kids.
Myth: Foster parents just do it for the money but don’t really love the kids.
My truth: Spoiler alert—I’m not getting rich being a foster mom, nor is that my motivation. My “payment” comes in other forms: hugs, “I love yous,” special artwork, and the reward of watching my kids learn to read, or ride a bike, or use a calming coping skill we’ve been working on.
Myth: You have to be “special” to be a foster parent.
My truth: I am a unique individual with personal strengths and flaws and so are you. My kitchen is always messy but my strength is the ability to love people. I don’t meal plan, but Google calendar helps me organize all of our appointments. I love to sing and talk with my kids about Jesus. You are also specially made to serve the various needs of those around you.
Myth: It would be too hard to “give them back.”
My truth: Yes, it would be. But that doesn’t mean I won’t invest myself in people who need help. I truly love them and treat them as valued members of my family because that’s what they are.
Myth: You will get hurt.
My truth: Your heart will grieve for the things your foster children have had to endure and how they sometimes respond because of it. But (and I don’t know this for sure because I don’t have biological children) isn’t everyone grieved at some point by something their kids do along the way? My “hurts” as an adult are very, very different from my children’s “hurts.” Many days your heart will break because of issues you didn’t cause. But the kids need safe, trustworthy adults to help them process the things they’ve lived through.
Myth: “My parenting style and the structure I bring can ‘fix’ these kids.”
My truth: My goodness, what an enormous amount of pressure to put on yourself and others! My children do have a Savior, but it isn’t me. I am so very thankful that I get to lead them gently to the cross so they can meet the One who can fix their broken hearts.
My top 20 joys of fostering
- Knowing I’m impacting my kids’ lives and changing future generations.
- Learning about the impacts of trauma and helping others understand, too.
- Marveling at how God has created our brains and their ability to heal!
- Loving my children and their biological families.
- Seeing my children grow and develop.
- Loving our “bonus” families—the tremendous people God placed in my children’s lives before He placed them in my home.
- Seeing the time and energy other people are willing to invest in my kids.
- Receiving so many home-cooked meals from our Family Care Team.
- Laughing about all of the crazy things that happen in our home.
- Looking back at where we were 3 years ago and seeing where we are now.
- Bonding with my children’s biological families.
- Growing personally as I continue learning about how to best meet my children’s needs through guidance from teachers, counselors, doctors, and therapists.
- Watching the “lightbulb” moments as my kids learn and grow.
- Being constantly reminded of God’s love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace and seeing it be SHOWERED down on me, on my children, on our families.
- Encouraging others to consider supporting a local foster family through the Kingdom Workers Foster Support program or to pray about becoming foster parents themselves.
- Thanking God that He doesn’t treat me like I deserve to be treated and spreading that thankfulness to my children when they need just a little extra grace.
- Watching love grow and multiply, not be divided or proportioned.
- Calming the madness that runs through our home.
- Hugging kids that just need a little extra reassurance that there is hope.
- Watching my children love Jesus.
Choosing to be a foster parent is the greatest privilege and the most rewarding work that I’ve ever had. I encourage you to research, pray, and take a wild leap of faith by investing in your local foster families or applying to be one yourself. Who knows where God will lead you!
I’m Cindy. I stay at home to raise my 6 precious foster children with my amazing husband Corey. I’ve been a Mom for 3 years, and being a foster parent has been the most wonderful, exhausting, hopeful, emotionally complex work I’ve ever done. I’m so, so thankful God answered my prayers for children beyond the wildest whisperings of my heart.