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Friday, December 21, 2007

A Few Truths About Foster Parenting

I've had a few questions lately as to the whole experience, and thought I would share the 10 truths I feel every person ought to know about foster parenting, whether they ever do it or not, in order to make the situation better for everyone.

1. Love can't fix everything. I originally thought that all these kids needed was love, but that was looking at it from my perspective and not theirs. They had love, and it was inappropriate and selfish and allowed them to be hurt. They see my kind of love as mean and restrictive. Love cannot heal everything: only Yahweh can.

2. Foster parents are not doing it just for the money. Anybody who says we are doing it to get rich ought to be forced to live on our per diem for 6 months. It is a very small amount to begin with, and when you add in the extra costs of driving to appointments and visits, child (and/or teen) proofing your entire life, and the emotional and physical toll of feeling like the lone air traffic controller at JFK, fosters parent go into symbolic debt rather than get rich.

3. Kids lie. All kids in general will try and lie to see if they can get away with it. Foster kids will quadruple that effort because they do not know who to trust. The Bible clearly states that foolishness is bound in the heart of a child. Remember that next time you hear a pathetic story from a child who by all appearances is being well cared for. I'm not saying never believe them, but take it with a grain of salt. Question their motives.

4. People will hate you for it. Regardless of how hard you work and what benefit the children in your care will gain, there will still be people who blame you for being willing to 'take away' other people's kids. If you are not a foster parent, keep in mind that they are being judged by the whole world for trying to fulfill the call (James 1:27).

5. Children can survive without candy (or Christmas, or the Prom, or playing organized sports). The world will fight and fight and tell you that when you do not celebrate certain holidays or allow your kids to experience a 'normal' childhood, you are neglecting them. They fail to see past this very specific culture to a world full of children who never experience any of these things.

6. Yahweh has a plan and it is better than yours. Regardless of what happens, it happens for a reason. This is true on both sides of the coin. If a kid goes home that you don't think should have gone home, Yahweh is still in control. If someone takes your kids away for what you feel are unfounded reasons, Yahweh is still in control. He has a reason. "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." Psalm 37:25

7. You are not alone. What a blessed assurance! This has been my source of comfort recently. Whether you are a foster parent or not, you are not alone in the feelings you have. If you feel guilty that you are not doing something to help because of your situation, there are many others like you. If you feel overwhelmed because of the situation your life is in with your foster children, there are many others who have experienced it. If you wish the whole establishment would go away, you are in the company of people from both sides of the issue!

8. There is none righteous; no, not one. No matter who it is that makes you feel inferior, they have faults, too.

9. There is more than one side to every story. I have found this to be very revealing in my own life, because what I saw as rescuing the kids is to them more like kidnapping. And we are both right. Who am I to judge the parents who lose their children when I myself have been called a bad parent? Who am I to side with the county when I have a laundry list of complaints against their practices myself?

10. Nothing lasts forever. What right now feels like the depths of hell will not be the depths of hell for me in 10 years. These children are only children for a short time. I will eventually receive a reprieve from the responsibility.

And addendum from my husband:
11. Raising foster kids is not at all the same as raising your own kids. So if you have never had foster kids, you cannot truly understand it.

1 comment:

Bren said...

I love #10!