I’m sure we’ve all heard a lot of different words to describe foster parents and/or foster parenting. Hopefully phrases such as, “hearts of gold” and “selfless heroes” outnumber the negative and inaccurate sentiments that too often plague this noble and challenging life choice many (but not enough) make. It is no secret that we here at FCNI love our foster parents--new parents, seasoned parents, single parents, long-term care parents, adoptive parents, respite parents, and parents willing to drop everything to provide immediate care in the middle of the night--we have all kinds of foster parents and we adore every one. Regardless of how a foster parent chooses to serve our kids, we are grateful beyond words for their sacrifices and the impact they are making to those in our community who need it the most--hurting children and youth.
We recently asked one of our foster moms, Katelin, to reflect on foster parenting and share her thoughts with us. Her words below are honest, and we know they come directly from her heart.
“I used to start my days by being woken up by my husband, about whom I have often declared that if someone can make putting on a pair of pants the loudest thing I have ever heard, it would certainly be him. Now, as a foster parent, I am woken up by a three year old little girl with wildly curly bed head--quite similar to mine actually--who sometimes tugs at me to let her into our bed (or sometimes, by surprise, she will be next to me already when I open my eyes). Then follows her two year old brother, clumsily but somehow still gently and quietly, entering the bed as well and trying his hardest to pull the covers up over himself (but usually he can’t because one of our three dogs is laying on them). Last to arrive to the party is my husband, holding our little ‘comic relief,’ a.k.a. baby NoNo, the one year old boy.
“We start every day with morning cuddles, which also helps me wake up a bit more before we start our day. I try my best to stick with a regular routine but with three kids under three years old, the truth is that sometimes it’s just ‘whatever works.’
“Fostering children is one wild ride filled with twist and turns and lots of upside down loops that make you question what planet you are on at times! Some days are absolutely amazing--someone learns a new word, makes me laugh beyond belief, or I get such a strong and overwhelming feeling that we made the right choice when we decided to be foster parents. But there are also days where I’m hit, bit, and screamed at, and it takes every ounce of me to not break my poker face. There are nights when one child’s tantrum starts a chain reaction, and we have a tantrum trifecta happening in the bedroom.
“Even now as I write this and read it back to my husband, we smile and giggle at those hard times, because the progress that the kids make every day is worth it all. I’m grateful that they were placed in my home and that I can give them the kind of love and nurturing they deserve to thrive and grow. They bring so much joy and meaning to my life.
“Fostering is a wonderful thing--it’s not for everyone, just as parenting isn’t for everyone. Foster Care has its challenges but it also has many rewards. I wouldn’t trade this experience with these kids for anything. They have changed mine and my husband’s outlook on life and they will forever be a part of our family.”
Katelin’s words remind us that there is no magic formula for foster parenting; you don’t really have to have anything beyond a willing spirit and an open mind. And while no one can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that foster parenting is for you, we can tell you that it is highly unlikely that you’ll regret at least trying it out. And you never know...you could be one of those parents who wake up to bed headed kids and chaos, and relish in knowing that every tear, smile, hurt, hug, angry word, broken promise, accomplishment, or hilarious and unpredictable moment ahead of you will all be worth it.
For more information about foster parenting in our community, please visit FCNI.org or call us at 805/781-3535.