First off, I don’t claim to be an expert foster parent, or a seasoned foster parent. In fact, I am barely even lightly buttered, lol. However, there are a couple things I have learned on my personal journey with foster care...
A lot of us, myself included go into foster care wanting to be a savior, the hero, the healer. The hard truth is we cannot be any of of those things. We do not have magic wands, wear crowns or capes. Heck, if you are like me you are doing good if you leave the house with pants that don’t contain elastic, and shoes that have strings. What we can be is someone who shows love and compassion. We can be someone who serves, and who teaches. A person who prays over the children in our care everyday. We cannot be the savior or a healer.
Healing from any kind of trauma takes time, and patience. Healing takes ten times more time than the time it took for the trauma to actually take place. Being a savior or a healer is not a foster parent’s job, ONLY God can do that kind of work!
On my journey, I have learned the art of being selfish. Yes foster parent, PLEASE be SELFISH! Maybe some of you figured that out way before me, but like I said I am no expert on this stuff, and I had to learn the hard way. Contrary to what some believe or what some people try to tell you, your foster child’s case is not your case. Let me say that again… Your foster child’s case is not your case! You do not have to own every aspect of the ordeal. Your concern is the child. Loving the child, serving the child, teaching the child. You are not a one stop shop to solve all the problems in this child’s life. When you hear the phrase "it takes a village", nothing could ring more true. Give yourself grace, learn to say no, and advocate not only for the child, but for yourself too. Be intentional about self care. Spiritually, physically, and mentally. Schedule dates, and time for yourself. Use respite care. You will be of no value to the child or even other family members in your home, if you are not selfish and take care of YOU.
Foster care is hard. It is one of the hardest things a person can do. Don't add to the hard by being hard on yourself. There will be plenty of people that will try to come along and do that for you. You really are doing remarkable things whether you believe it or not.
To all of you that reach the point of saying “YES”, I congratulate you. Your “yes” may be the first time a child has ever had a “yes” in their entire life. That is a big deal! You, “Dear Foster Parent” are a big deal! Keep up the good work!
-Staci Stepp, Founder and Executive Director of HSH