Foster parenting is under attack in America, perhaps now more than ever.
We both know this to be true. The evidence is all around us.
Perhaps you read in the news about the foster parent who abused their foster child. You might have even read in the news about the infant who died in foster care. Truth be told, it seems that there is a story about a “bad foster parent,” each day in the news, and about children being harmed in a foster home.
Let’s be honest. There is a bad apple in every barrel in life. Those bad apples are found all over, and in every corner of society. We both know that those bad apples spoil an entire barrel.
That applies to some foster parents.
As a foster parent of 15 years, this type of news breaks my heart, in so many ways. As a foster parent of over 50 children, this type of news brings tears to my eyes, and heartache to my soul.
Now, you know that our media focuses on these stories. Our media likes to shine the light on those stories that are often focused on the horrible and the shocking. Indeed, this is the type of stereotype that much in society believes to be true. Society is led to believe that all foster parents are bad people. Many believe that foster parents are in it for the money. Many believe that all foster parents don’t care about the children in their homes, or are not vigilant in watching over them.
Perhaps you have a similar situation; those closest to you have no idea what happens in your own life and household every day, and the particular challenges, heartaches, and frustrations you face as a foster parent. As a result, foster parenting will be on display for all to see as you undertake your role as a foster parent. Your family, your work mates, your close friends, those at your church; all will discover what foster care is all about, just by watching what you do each and every day. Furthermore, they will also come to learn more about what children in foster care also experience, as well. Perhaps others will be impressed by your role, and will wish to become a foster parent, as well, or in the very least, help out. Hey, your efforts and your example might even lead others to sign up for the next set of foster parent training sessions in your area.
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To take it a step further, for birth parents and family members of the children in foster care placed in your home, though, you might be the best example of what a good parent is. For many children in foster care, they come from a long cycle of family members placed in foster care. Think of it as a generational cycle. I have had many children in my home whose parents were in foster care before them. Indeed, a few months ago, I had a new born baby placed in our home; a tiny four pound baby who was on a heart monitor when he first came to us. He was so tiny! As you can imagine, my wife immediately fell in love with him, and we had hoped to adopt him. Sadly, it did not work out for us. His parents were both teenagers, approaching twenty years old, and both had been in foster care, themselves. On top of that, the birth mother’s own mother (the tiny baby’s grandmother) had also been in foster care, as well as some of the aunts and uncles of the newborn baby. This was one child that had a long family history of foster care, and would likely have a difficult time trying to have the cycle broken for him if he remained with his biological family.
With this in mind, it is important to remember that you are being watched. To be sure, you might be the first example of how to take care of a child, and how to be a healthy and loving parent. Everything you do as a foster parent will send signals to the biological parents on how a parent should act, as well as how to treat their own children. Everything you say will speak volumes to the child’s birth family members. This is indeed a big responsibility, and should not be taken lightly.
Therefore, as a foster parent, it is important that you embrace this role; this role as a ROLE MODEL for all to see. For your friends and family, for your workmates and fellow church members, for those in your neighborhood and in your city; you are likely the only example of what a foster parent really is. Foster parenting is under attack in the media in our nation. The only way that foster parenting will be seen in a positive and helpful light is by what YOU do, and by how you treat children in your home as foster parent.
It begins with me and it begins with you.
Let's change that narrative. Let's change that story. Let's show others what foster parents are REALLY like!
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