Words I Hate to Say

Hello, My Name is "Foster Parent"

Liz Young February 18, 2014
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Five months ago our life exploded. We went from being just the two of us for five years, to being all four of us in five days (soon-to-be five since our boys’ little brother is moving in with us soon, too!)  And that’s what we wanted.

I have wanted to be a foster parent for as long as I can remember (for real). I did my research, talked to foster parents, read stories, scoured blogs. There were so many things to try to prepare myself to face, but among the things I didn’t anticipate was growing to hate my title of “foster parent.”

At first it was the only parental title I’d ever known, so it was fine. But the more moments the boys spent in our house, the more I became their parent, no prefix necessary.

We function fully as the boys’ mom and dad in our daily life and in our home, and the boys have fully embraced us as that. However, at times it becomes painfully clear that we are not legally their parents. It is during these moments when I hate that I have to say, “I’m their foster parent.”

A medical waiver needs to be signed, but we can’t sign it because we’re just the foster parents.

The urgent care doctor wants complete medical history, but we can’t provide it because we’re just the foster parents.

The boys’ prescriptions run out and their doctor needs approval to switch them to a new medication, but we can’t approve that because we’re just the foster parents.

It’s upsetting when these things come up that make our daily family life feel like a sham. We do plan to adopt the boys, and that day is getting closer. That day will eliminate some of these issues, but not all. Regardless of that fact, we are still just the foster parents now.

Even though sometimes I hate that this title limits my role in their lives, my position as their foster mom actually provides freedom to my children. Being in a home filled with love gives them the freedom to be themselves without fear. It gives them the freedom to love and be loved without being taken advantage of.

Some days I want to hide the fact that I am the boys’ foster parent, and just be their parent. But, as much as that title discourages me, it gives hope to my children; the children who have no idea and don’t care who signs their medical waivers, who just want us to sit with them at the doctor, and who have come to trust that we are going to take care of them.

In the frustrating times I find joy in that– and I hope other foster parents can as well.

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Liz Young

Liz and her husband are foster parents in Illinois. They adopted their three boys through foster care. Liz shares personal experiences from her crazy journey of foster parenting at The Crazy House


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