A Letter of Encouragement to Foster Mamas

Psst . . . hey you. Yes, foster mama, you. Has anyone told you lately that what you are doing is incredibly brave? You may not think so, but we all know that the world is in desperate need for more brave women like you. You take in children who have been abused, neglect, abandoned, whose feet have walked a treacherous path. You are there, scooping them up in your warm arms, and carrying them along on a journey that no child should be on.

Each day you get up with the same gumption that caused you to begin your foster parenting journey. You cook breakfast, tend to needs, check backpacks, fix lunches, and wish those kiddos a good day at school. You attend meetings, listen to the professionals describe their goals for the birth parents, hear from the birth parents, and attempt to advocate for the children you are caring for. There is a fine line, though, between pushing too hard, and not enough. You are asked to speak up for the children, but also to not allow your own feelings to get in the way. Wow. What a challenge. What a tremendous request to bestow upon anyone.

Nighttime arrives, and you know the struggle will come. The same children who love the daylight sometimes fear the dark. Their sleep is wrought with dreams. You hear them whimper, cry out, and toss and turn. Still yet, there you are in your own sleep-deprived haze, gently calming them down, and waiting it out until they are fast asleep.

Time passes, and the children who came to you with much sorrow and angst have started to blossom. Their constant questioning if there is enough food to eat, their stiffness when trying to show affection, and their fretful nights have all started to dissipate. They are beginning to show the essence of childhood, and your heart could not be fuller.

Throughout their time in your home, you have remained that steadfast presence they so desperately need. You often hear “I could never foster because I would get too attached.” The truth is that you also get attached, but you, foster mamma, refuse to allow your fear to be an excuse. These children need someone like you to attach to. They need your bravery and your belief in the great and life-impacting cause that is foster parenting.

For some of you, the babies, children, and teenagers that you have loved on will leave. While your mind fills up with concerns for their futures, and as you wipe thick tears from your eyes, you also marvel at the redemptive intervention that has been made in the lives of the birth parents and children.

For others, the babies, children, and teenagers that you have loved on will stay. It is a glorious feeling to move forward with adoption, isn’t it? But, on the other hand, it is also a deeply moving and humbling experience that is mixed with sadness for their birth families, and the children that you will soon call your own (at least legally).

Psst . . . hey you. Yes, foster mamma, you. Has anyone told you lately that what you are doing is incredibly brave? You love, and then let go. You hurt, and then push that aside to heal others. You carry on day after day with the understanding that everything you do matters in the lives of children.

Foster parenting requires determination, tender-heartedness, and the belief in a greater purpose for us all. Stay strong, foster mamas. Stay brave. You may never get the recognition you so deserve, but the children you are caring for will remember that you were always there, scooping them up in your warm arms, and carrying them along on a journey that no child should be on.

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