This site contains affiliate links. We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Read more about our Affiliate Links and Disclosure Statements in the Resources section.
Thinking about Becoming a Foster Parent?
This is the 4th in a series of six blog posts about the Emotions a Foster Parent experiences during their fostering journey. My husband and I were foster parents for nine years, and I write from our experiences. (Scroll to the bottom for links to the other posts in this series.)
This Is Harder than I Expected
The intense emotions we experienced as foster parents were hard, and it’s been hard reliving it. We let our license expire after our last adoption 6 years ago, and our kids keep us in the moment every day. So it had been quite a while since I’d given these memories and emotions an opportunity to rise to the surface.
When I’m writing about certain emotions, or telling stories about certain experiences, I’m not talking in generalities. I’m showing you my heart, scar tissue and all.
Sadness / Grief
When I write about sadness, for example, I might be thinking of a certain child, a certain moment in time. Those moments are crystal clear, even ten years later. I can still remember what it felt like to cuddle him tight that last time. I remember holding back my tears, and I remember the words I whispered in his sweet little ear. I can still see the confusion in his eyes when I handed him to the social worker. For a long time, every time I’d see a towheaded 2 year old, I’d do a double-take, with tears in my eyes. Only once was it him. And I haven’t seen him since.
I might be thinking of a 5 year old girl who, years after her adoption was finalized, suddenly realized the enormity of what that meant, and burst into tears at the dinner table. I might be thinking of the child who closes himself off from any conversation about his birth family because the whole thing is too painful and he just wants to pretend it doesn’t exist. That child was adopted as an infant. Grief runs deep, and manifests in a million ways, many of which will throw you for a loop.
Sometimes it looks like anger or self-destructive behaviors. Sometimes it looks like a need to control or constant irritating behaviors to make sure you still love them. Sometimes we get stuck there, because unfortunately there’s not a lot of closure in foster care. You may never know if that child who went back to relatives turned out ok. You may never know if she knows how fiercely she was loved while you had her. The child may never have a chance to ask his birth parents why they didn’t work harder to get him back. He may even have a birth parent who dies of an overdose, and he’s never even notified.
So much sadness. So hard.
The Hardest – A Broken Heart
You had to know this was coming. You had to. It’s the most common excuse I hear for why people don’t even consider fostering. And it’s understandable. We don’t like to feel emotional pain or have our hearts broken. And it WILL happen, if you foster.
Maybe not with every single child, but sooner or later some little person’s great big pain-filled eyes are going to connect with yours, and then you’re a goner. And later you might have to let that child go forever. And your heart will shatter into a million pieces.
It happens. It’s the risk we take, loving other people’s children. It’s the big granddaddy of all hard emotions, and it’s a doozy.
So the real question is, is it worth it?
I think so. And so does Sarah, of Foster Your Heart Out, whose Facebook post about broken hearts and the tragic plight of many kids in foster care is still going mega-viral as I write this. And I think she said it best:
There is ALWAYS a need for foster parents. ALWAYS.
Join me on Facebook
Are you a Strong Mama of Hard Kids? A Crazy Quilt Mama, just trying to make the best of what life’s reality turned out to be? Come hang out with us – we have a Facebook group dedicated to uplifting and encouraging each other!
Books I recommend for Fostering & Adoption (affiliate link)