It has been nine months since our last foster placement left our home, and I am still prone to cry about her when I think of her. This coming month it feels more acute than some because it will be the 9th month since she has left us, after being with us for 9 months: she is about to pass the marker of living more than half her life with another family.
This other family, while not related to her biologically, is kind and generous and good. But since she came to my house as the actual teeniest, most helpless little 5 pound baby you have ever seen, and since we are wired with an instinct to protect those we care for (remember this?) I can be glad for the safe home she is in while at the same time mourning the fact that I am not her parent any more. I was, for 9 months, because your parent is the person who is parenting you: changing your diapers or brushing your teeth, feeding you and tucking you in.
Through foster training we are taught to be “pro-reunification” and this is an absolutely good and necessary thing, but it’s against our natural caretaker instincts to cheer on what will be a loss for you as the foster parent. We can do it when we operate logically, but we can’t patch a broken heart with logic. And so September 5th has broken my heart the way all the 5ths have since December.
So far, this isn’t a great “recruit a foster parent” post, is it? Except that my loss indicates that our family gave one little girl exactly what she needed most for 9 months: love and connection and attachment. That is what my foster parenting marketing campaign would be. Not do you have time, or space, or capacity for a child. “Will you share your heart?” — i.e. Are you willing to be broken a bit on behalf of a child that is traumatized? Because that’s what they need. And I am thankful that for a while, we could be the ones to give that to her.
In my grief journey since December, and more broadly since our first placement left in 2017, I have consumed a lot of material on the topic of foster care. But I wanted to recommend a couple things to you — as either places of refuge on the topic of foster care if you are in it, or as content that might broaden or deepen your understanding if you aren’t in it. These are places I have found support, and they could help you or someone you know, as well.
As you check these out this month, think of the ways you can support a foster or adoptive family during National Adoption Month in November. Because like a child in a hard place, who so desperately needs connection, so do the families in the trenches of foster care. Reach out: connection is what they need.
- ChristianParenting.Org — this website has several great articles on fostering by Foster-turned-adoptive parent Cynthia Yanof. Read this and this.
- Pardon the Mess — I love this interview with parent of 10 (TEN!) Tony Dungy and his wife Lauren. Their perspective is SO good and comes with the benefit of three decades of parenting experience with both biological and adoptive children
- Empowered to Connect — Karen Purvis remains the authority on how to parent children from hard places.
- Watermark Community Church Family Restoration Ministry — Now a ministry offering not only support to foster and adoptive families, but also resources and support to biological parents of children who have been removed.
Note: There are many great resources I didn’t mention, but those above are ones that have impacted my life. If you foster, please share the resources that have helped you below in the comments!