Yet, the life of a foster parent is not always an easy one. In fact, it is OK to say that being a foster parent is hard. It’s OK to say that sometimes you just feel like no understands what you are going through.
Guess what. It’s even OK to say that sometimes, you simply want to stop, that you can’t do it any more, that you are just don’t want to be hurt again.
Yes, foster parenting can be difficult. You see, I have been a foster parent for 15 years, now. Foster parenting, without a doubt, has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I cannot imagine a more difficult and challenging lifestyle. I have lived the life of a foster parent. I have had over 50 children come through my home. These children have been as young as 27 hours old and as old as 18 years of age. Some have stayed a day, while others have stayed up to two years. I have had up to 11 children in my home, and at one time had seven in diapers. To be sure, seven in diapers was one exhausting experience. I jokingly tell people that having seven in diapers at the same time should be illegal in all 50 states and every country.
The outside world does not see the many challenges and struggles you may face on a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis. Your friends and family don’t truly understand or appreciate what you are going through. Others see the children coming in and out of your home on a regular basis, and most find it a wonderful thing you are doing, but also may find it a little odd or strange and question why you do it.
You will often find yourself exhausted, both mentally and physically, and feel drained. There is very little money available to help you, and you may not be reimbursed for all the money you spend on your foster child. The job will require you to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with no time off. You will probably feel overworked and underappreciated. You will work with children who are most likely coming from difficult and harmful environments. Some of these children will have health issues, some will come with behavioral issues, and some will struggle with learning disabilities. Many times, the children you work with will try your patience, and leave you with headaches, frustrations, disappointments, and even heartbreaks. There is a reason why many people are not foster parents, as it is often too difficult. There have been those times where my heart has broken when a child left my home. There have been those moments when I have questioned whether or not I was making a difference. There have been those times when I have grown frustrated with the system, as I have had to stand by and watch some of the children in my home go back to environments and situations which I knew that were not healthy or safe.
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Yet, I would have it no other way. Foster parenting has been a tremendous gift to me. And I bet it has for you, as well.
When we care for children in foster care and bring them into our homes and families, we help change their lives. Yet, at the same time, our lives are changed, as well, and they are changed for the better. I have become a much better person for each child that has come through my home.
Perhaps you have the desire to help out children who suffer from abuse or neglect; maybe you feel compassion for children who face malnutrition or drug -related problems passed on from a mother’s addiction. Possibly, your heart goes out to those children who are rejected by those who were supposed to love them most. After all, you feel that every child deserves the right to be in a healthy and supportive home, and most importantly, every child deserves to be loved unconditionally. As a foster parent, you have the opportunity to help these children in need. When you foster a child, not only do you invest in the future and well-being of a child, you are also changing the life of that child.
To be sure, there have been those placements that have been more difficult and more challenging than others, placements that have left both my wife and I weary and exhausted. Sometimes, we may not be able to save a child from horrible and tragic experiences before they come to live with us. Yet, we are given the chance, as foster parents, to save them from experiencing other future horrors and taking them away from dangerous situations. Without a doubt, this is a joy itself. As a foster parent, indeed, as a parent, you are making a difference! You are saving a child from harm! It is my hope that you continue caring for children in foster care. There are so many children in care, yet so few willing to help.
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