Top 5 Things I've Learned Being a Foster Mom


As you'd expect, a year of serving as a foster mom can teach you many things. Here are my top 5 lessons learned.

5. No amount of training adequately prepares foster parents for what they will encounter. We underwent 30+ hours of training to obtain a fostering license. Since that time, the state has actually lowered the requirements to only 15 hours of training to obtain a license. And yet, after all of the training, we still felt as though we were not fully prepared for what would come our way as a foster family.

Every fostering situation is different, so it is impossible to prepare a foster family for every possible situation they may encounter. And rules and guidelines for foster families change yearly (like the tax code) so it's hard to stay on top of them. However, foster parents will be held to high standards and are expected to follow strict guidelines, so training is necessary to teach those things. I feel our state is doing a disservice by lowering the requirements for licensure in order to make it easier to become foster parents, while this means that folks will have even less information about what they are signing up for and what is expected of them as foster parents.

4. Good intentions aren't enough when it comes to orphan care. Many things are needed to be a good foster parent - organizational skills, patience, compassion, communication skills, transportation, high tolerance of stress, ability to stay calm in chaotic situations, training hours, etc. To simply want to help is good - it's a good starting point. Yet much more is required. The pity, sympathy or compassion that one feels for the orphan child does little good if not put into action in tangible way. The emotion should move us to action - to prayer, to becoming an advocate for children, to foster parenting, to something, to anything that is a tangible expression of our concern.

3. Foster care is a broken system. There is no way to get around the fact that the state fostering system is chaotic, government-run, under-staffed, and under-funded. It is far from perfect, yet it is the current way of handling the orphan crisis in America. It is all that is in place currently to provide any help, as broken and inefficient as it is. Working within the foster care system can be very frustrating. Those who are to be working on behalf of children can't keep up with the paperwork demanded of them. The system needs an overhaul. Or the Church in America needs to step back up to the ministry of orphan care.

2. There is a great need for more people to be foster parents, however... that need is skewed heavily towards teenagers and difficult-to-parent children. In our state, we were told that it was pointless to become foster parents who would take only infants. Infants are "easy" to care for and easy to place with foster families. There are dozens of foster families waiting to take in infants, in our county. What is truly needed, at least in our area, are foster parents who will take in older children, especially teenagers. This is part of the reason we stepped down from fostering for the time being. We would gladly accept infants and very young children, but we do not feel it's wise to take in teenage children given the ages of our biological children. So, while the need is great and more foster parents are needed, all things are not equal when it comes to the age of the children who waiting for a foster family to take them in.

1. When you take the risk to love, your heart may get hurt. To risk love may mean pain. It may mean that providing help for someone else proves painful for yourself in the process. Yet we are called to love. To give. To risk. To do it over and over. This is maturity. This is growth. This is true self-sacrifice. This is laying one's life down for another. God can certainly use foster parenting as a means of sanctification, as a way of refining us, as a daily opportunity to lay down one's life for another.

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.


Anonymous said...

It is such a sad situation all around. :( Bless you for trying.

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