We're slowly telling more people about our journey to fostering. It is amazing to me - many people I have told said that they've also thought about fostering. It warms my heart to have so much support, to have people understand why we're changing our lives.
The largest reason people say they are hesitant to jump into fostering is that they are afraid of their heart breaking when the child leaves.
It is a concern for me, and one I have for my children.
When we cared for four children in an emergency foster situation my heart became entangled in their lives. Though they stayed in our home for just a few days, I knew them before that, and continued to be a support after they left - until their new foster mom cut off all contact. Because of HIPA laws the social worker couldn't share details once the children were no longer with us. Eventually I heard that they were returned home. That is all I know about those children whose lives left a permanent imprint on my heart.
I cried. I kept a lot to myself because it was too messy to explain. DH was a great support but mostly it took time. After the pain eased a bit I realized something. God put me in the children's lives, I was there in the moment something had to happen to protect them. It took humility and trust in God to realize that he could put others into their lives in the same way. I didn't have to be the one to save them, God was saving them in his own way with good people throughout the community.
A foster podcast I listen to gave another good insight into dealing with children leaving foster homes, leaving heartbreak in their wake. To sum it up simply - they say it's worth the pain. Doesn't every child deserve to have someone care about them so much that they cry over them? Especially children who are in such dire straits. Whether someone decides to foster or not, children are still in pain and need. It is a truly service because in the end you could be left with nothing but memories and empty arms.
Because I'm worried about what my kids will go through when they lose a foster sibling I have an idea that I hope will help. In the beginning of our foster experience we'll be doing respite care. This is caring for a foster child while their long term foster parents get a break. These visits can be as short as a day or as long as two weeks. My hope is that in doing respite care my children will come to understand in a real way that foster children go home. If we were to start out fostering with a long term placement (up to 18 months) it would be extremely hard to understand. I guess in a way it is toughening them up. In some situations I've heard that kids are happy to have foster kids go home so they can get more of their parent's attention.
If you're interested in fostering look into foster agencies in your area. Just calling for information won't put you on a target list. Foster agencies are very friendly and understanding if you inquire but never pursue it. I found our agency on the internet, their stats were impressive and when we met them and saw where their office was it all fell into place.
To end this post I want to share a song I heard for the first time today-