Thursday, 5 February 2015

Guest Post - Foster Parenting

When I invite someone as a guest on the blog, it's because they have something to share that I have no experience in writing about. Foster parenting is a subject I find fascinating, heart warming and truly interesting.
My friend, Karen and her husband have recently become foster parents and I've asked her to share their experiences.

When Brooke approached me about writing a guest post on her blog about foster parenting, I spent several days deciding what I should say. The truth is that being a foster parent is terrifying, heartbreaking and completely worth it. We hug crack-exposed toddlers. We listen to stories of how a parent was violently injured. We do our best to explain that the police and “big people” that raided the child’s home were doing it to protect her from dangers that she didn’t even know existed. Our families see, first hand, the stories that we used to only hear about in the news - stories that we would turn off when we couldn’t bear it anymore.

Being a foster parent is one hundred times harder than I thought it would be, but it is one thousand times as rewarding as I could have ever imagined. That crack-exposed toddler will eventually hug us back and begin to trust grown-ups. The kid, whose memory of their parent being injured was so fresh in their mind when they came, will begin making new memories – ones will with laughter, playing and love. The child who was terrified of police will proudly parade around the house wearing not one, but two sheriff’s badge stickers.

When people find out I’m a foster parent, most tell me they could never do it and add a statement like “I would get too attached” or “I could never give them back.” I’m never sure how to respond. I’m not sure how to politely say that it isn’t about us. It’s about them.

Without foster parents, these children end up in shelters or group homes or worse. So what if you could do it? What if you could “get too attached” and then “give them back” when the time comes. Foster parents aren’t super heroes. Thinking of us as heroes makes our job seem unattainable for the average person, but it isn’t. Anyone that can love a child can be a foster parent.

Imagine for a moment that you could “give them back.” As foster parents, we have to be happy for them when they are reuniting with their parents or moving in with a family member. We celebrate with them, laugh with them and jump up and down with them when the call comes to tell them that they are going home. We help them pack their things and send them on their way, smiling. Then, when they are pulling out of the driveway in their social worker’s car, the tears will come. Behind the closed doors of a now empty bedroom, we allow ourselves to grieve for the child we just lost, and we remind ourselves that it isn’t about us. It’s about them.

“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove... but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.” - Forest E. Witcraft

Karen resides in South Carolina with her husband, Chris and their three children. They both work full-time, raise their own family, and still find time to open their loving home to children who are in need of one. They have been foster parents since September and are enjoying every minute of it!

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