Friday, January 05, 2018

What I've Learned About Life as a Foster Parent

We have had five foster children in our home over the past three years and although we are still somewhat new in this journey, there is always a lot of learning that happens quickly! From a one month stay up to two years, each child has been here for different reasons in regards to their home lives and experiences. However, here are ten things I can tell you about what's it's like as a foster parent in almost every case.

"Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you."– Mother Teresa

What I've Learned About Life as a Foster Parent: 

1. We're all doing the best we can. Brene Brown has said that it's hard to hate people close up and you need to move in and get to know them. This has been instrumental to me in understanding the parents because it often takes me a few weeks to get through the "How could they?" stage to "I can see why we're here" once I learn their story.

2. We all have limits. We're human. Have them. Know them. Learn them. When you start fostering you can indicate the ages, gender, and needs that you are open to. However, you don't really know until you are in it what you can handle as each child is unique and often the needs are not known up front. Make sure that if your limits are exceeded that you seek support from your community and resource social worker.

3. A traumatized brain needs a lot of time to feel safe.  I'm not a psychologist but wish I was! The learning is never-ending. Just because you know your home is safe and secure does not mean their brain is ready to take it in yet. It takes time and consistency to allow their brain to get out of the "danger" zone.

4. Do your best but keep perspective and prioritize yourself, husband and kids. This is often hard as a perfectionist. I want to do every. single. thing. for each child as there is a lot of catching up that needs to be done but this can be detrimental to my marriage and biological kids.

5. The system is messy but giving up on it puts the kids at an even bigger disadvantage. This is one of the hardest for me and I have to be extremely cautious in what I say here. There have been several times where I have said "we quit" because of the system. Yet, here we are. The kids are worth it.

6. Overall, fostering has been beneficial to my children. This was my greatest fear going in and yet they are my greatest cheerleaders for continuing to foster. They enjoy having new siblings to love on. Our kids have a great understanding of the needs of others and have developed their empathy and compassion.

7. There are needs all around us. I grew up thinking that it's those in third world countries who need us. While that may be true, one in five in our city live in poverty and there are hundreds of kids in care; our hands, feet and hearts are needed here. It can be stressful when you get The Call so make sure you know where your heart and mind are before answering.

8. Being willing to accept and ask for help is important. Each child is different and while it's no problem for me to get a meal on the table now, that has not always been the case. If someone offers you one, take it. If you need resources then connect with your friends in that field. If you need clothing or baby items, ask around first for any donations before going out to buy them – often people are more than willing to help if they know what you need.

9. I don't like teething. And germs. And potty training. And lack of sleep. With fostering you never get out of that stage but you definitely pick up a few tools along the way to make it go more smoothly. For us we have learned that the 6-12 month stage is ideal in working well with our kids which means a whole lof of teething and a little less sleep.

10. Good thing it's not all #9. The scales are tipped by love which you can't help as much as you try. Forming an attachment with the child is especially beneficial on their end so just let it happen.

Is this something that has been on your heart?

If you have any questions at any time, please ask. I'd love to help you.

What I've learned as a foster parent from understanding why the kids are in care to what it takes to make them feel safe.

Click here to listen to the audio of this post! 


  1. we've considered fostering as well..appreciate your tips!

    1. Happy to hear that! Let me know if you have any questions 😊

  2. Terri6:48 PM

    I keep wondering which one of your posts will give me the final push. And yet, I need to know my limits too. Bless your family!

    1. Thank you 😊 I highly recommend doing relief for foster parents if you’re curious. It helps out children and foster families and gives you a taste of what it’s like ❤️