So many foster and adoptive parents have felt their purpose in their lives is to foster or adopt. So strong is the pull to help children in need of homes that it becomes a part of our identity, and when our homes are full, I’ve heard many parents struggle with feelings that they are not doing enough, that they no longer have purpose or feel fulfilled. Recently another adoptive parent was voicing this struggle. I encouraged her first that she continues to have a journey to travel with the kids in her home, and I shared about how Darren and I began Transfiguring Adoption in order to multiply our efforts in helping children by providing tools and resources to other foster and adoptive parents. I pulled up our website statistics and started reading off the names of all the countries in which caregivers have viewed our nonprofit’s website this year. About halfway down the list, I quit, speechless at the list I didn’t even realize was so incredibly long. The other caregiver, wide-eyed as I, said that she had chills.
The group of us talking moved from there to the question of “How do we find purpose when our homes are full?” This sweet friend of mine became inspired to look into starting a new, exciting ministry helping foster children, and I am so excited to see what she does and to help out any way I can. As I thought about the tribe of foster and adoptive parents around me, I realized that they have started organizations that provide clothes and supplies to foster families, that offer filled backpacks to foster children, that develop web-based documentation applications, that train caregivers, and so much more.
So what can you do if you’re struggling with feeling you no longer have purpose when you can’t foster or adopt more children? Remember that your purpose is first and foremost to become an expert in your children’s needs and meet them as well as you can. Give yourself permission to say that you are doing your part, and that’s all you need to do! You may very well be at your limit. None of us is a Savior, and the responsibility for abused, neglected, and abandoned or orphaned children does not lie on our shoulders alone. If you still have time in your schedule and emotional and mental energy to help others, you can:
- Educate others on trauma, foster care, and adoption and what they can do to help.
- Volunteer for or donate to organizations like the Never To Late Project that are helping.
- Reach out to other foster and adoptive parents who may be feeling overwhelmed and see if there are practical needs you can meet.
- Provide respite for other families.
About the author: Margie Fink is the co-founder of Transfiguring Adoption, which is a nonprofit program that nurtures foster/adoptive kids by giving a HOOT about their caregivers. Margie has her degree in psychology and has worked in the social work field for over a decade. She currently lives in Knoxville, Tennessee with her husband and four children, who were adopted from the foster care system.