Foster care is lots of different things to lots of different people. Depending on your experience or history with foster care, you might think some different things are true or false about the foster care system. Here are some things that I believe foster care is and some things I believe that foster care is not.
What foster care is not:
- Foster care is not adoption. Foster care is a temporary solution for children and families. The goal of foster care is for families to be reunified and strengthened. Yes, that means that foster parents have to say goodbye to kids they’ve loved and cared for. And no, it’s not easy at all. But if you look from the perspective of reunification, then you’re not ‘giving’ back a child. Instead, a family is ‘getting’ a child back.
- Foster care is not taking kids away from families Foster care is a chance to put families back together, not tear them apart. The purpose of foster care is reunification. Families are supposed to be together, and foster parents should be supportive of families coming back together. Foster parents should celebrate when parents work hard and are rewarded with their kids coming home.
- Foster care is not impossible. Foster care is hard, but it’s possible. People often say that foster care is impossible for them because they would get too attached or they couldn’t fathom saying goodbye. Those are fears that are valid, but not impossible to overcome. Kids need people to get attached to them, and with programs like shared parenting, you can continue to be a part of their life even after they’ve returned home.
What foster care is:
- Foster care is a calling. Not everyone is called to become a foster parent, but we are all called to help children in need. That can be done by welcoming children into your home or supporting those who do. There are a number of ways to support foster care without actually becoming a foster parent.
- Foster care is fun. Much is said about the difficulties associated with foster care, but it can be so entertaining! You get to watch kids grow up and experience life with all their commentary along the way. Kids in foster care come from some pretty hard places, but they are still kids. They love to play and be silly and create and learn new things.
- Foster care is love. Kids often live in fear before entering foster care. Being taken from their families is a terrifying experience. They’re scared of the uncertainty of where they’re going to live or if they will ever see their families again. Every step of the foster care journey is frightening for kids. They need to be loved like Jesus loves them. We know that perfect love drives out fear. Kids in foster care are fearful. We need to respond with love.
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