Note: This is the tough part. The part I don’t want to know or write or share. The part that keeps me up at night and quiet for weeks.
We didn’t adopt our first foster kids and many asked us why. Friends have had to disrupt placements and ask caseworkers to find children new homes.
Before foster care, I always assumed good foster parents simply didn’t disrupt. They kept children until they went home or they adopted them. But I’m realizing that’s not always true. And it’s breaking me.
I read a lot, think a lot, talk a lot, write a lot about foster care.
For two years kids have come in and out of our home. Turned our lives upside down and inside out. Melted and broken our hearts.
I’ve done the attachment research and behavior management classes. Been spat at and cursed out. Held hands and heard prayers.
And so I say with confidence. I get it.
Not all of it. I’ve never been in foster care myself or had a baby I raised for years return home to her biological family. There are pieces I don’t know and parts I don’t yet understand.
But the big picture, I get.
Foster care is about staying. Sticking with a child through all the rollercoasters. “Rocking with the kid…no matter how bad they get.”
But actually it’s not that simple. After all, even unconditional love demands boundaries. Lines and limits naturally exist even if we wish they didn’t have to.
Safety and mental health are real needs. For foster kids, and for foster parents.
So of course there comes a point when a foster parent might have to wave the white flag and disrupt a placement. Give up a child.
Logically, that makes sense. Yet, statistically, that child will probably go to a group home. And from there, chances are good he will end up in jail.
With consequences like that, logic feels irrelevant.
But it doesn’t go away. Good foster parents have to put on their own oxygen mask first, as the airlines always say. They can’t sacrifice the things that make them good to begin with. Their faith, health, home, marriage, family.
My head can know such wisdom but my heart still fights.
I wrestle because she isn’t going back to biological parents. Because no judge mandated a move. Because it’s up to us.
Because giving up a child feels like giving up on a child. And how can a good foster parent do that?
How does a foster parent not stay in order to stay good?
The paradox undoes me.