Long before my husband and I started our family, we had dreamed of adoption. We didn’t know what that would look like, but when our youngest daughter was born, we decided we were done having children but still felt called to expand our family. When our youngest was 7, we decided to explore foster care. Becoming a foster parent has been a whirlwind of a journey, but we wouldn’t change a thing. If you’re new to becoming a foster parent or thinking about taking that step, you’re not crazy. Here are some things we’ve learned over time.
When we first started the process to foster, we wanted to foster-to-adopt (a term I can’t stand anymore). We knew what placements we would accept based on that, but God’s plan for our family was so much greater than we could have ever imagined. Our first call for placement was the complete opposite of what we thought we were looking for. The moment we met her, we knew everything we had planned, everything we were looking for, had changed. We weren’t called to foster-to-adopt, but we were called to foster-to-foster. We had a plan, but so did God, both for this sweet little person, and for my family.
As we began to walk in this new calling, people kept saying, “I could never foster. I would get too attached.” But the thing is, we were made for attachment. God’s plan is for us not to do life alone (Genesis 2:18). Attachment is how we thrive mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and educationally.
Even knowing this, the heartbreak foster care can usher into your world is undeniable. When a child leaves the home, even if it is to reunite with their birth family, the unexplainable joy is still met with unexplainable sadness. Selfishly, there are times I don’t want to get attached because I know the pure heartbreak of loss. It’s easy to think that if I can just keep my distance, I will protect myself from the pain that I know will eventually come. How selfish is that? As a foster parent, attachment is not the side effect—attachment is the goal.
Even when I have to override my own emotions, becoming a foster parent means learning that the fear of becoming attached can’t keep me from diving in head first. Instead, I am committed to letting the fear of these children not having attachment propel me and compel me to action. The grief after every transition is worth it because we know we partnered with another family to carry the weight when they needed someone to come alongside them.
We love each child with everything we have, and I am so thankful that Jesus loves them so much more than I could even begin to try (1 John 4:16). So with that truth in mind, we get back up, lean in, and say “Yes” again. And again.
When you bring brokenness into your home, you can’t help but be broken by it. How many times have I prayed for my heart to break for what breaks the Lord’s heart? Foster care is heavy and full of brokenness, but it is also full of joy and stories of love, redemption, and belonging. You see it when the child’s trust grows in your home, when they begin to excel in school, when the achievement and development gaps begin to close, and when you start to see more smiles and less sadness. You see it as moms and dads fight to get their children home and the immense celebration when they cross the finish line. You see it when birth parents send you photos years after the child has left your home or when they ask you to visit.
Whether you’re new to becoming a foster parent or thinking about taking that step, know this—His is the victory. So we don’t stop. We don’t lose sight of the goal. We fight hard, love deep, pray consistently, and don’t lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:16). We live knowing we have little control over the outcome of the case, but we trust a big God who won’t be surprised. The truth is that foster care isn’t always easy, but it is always, 100 percent of the time, worth it.