Foster Care Friday

As we approach the end of our time working with the foster care system, I have wanted to highlight some of the not so pretty sides of it-not because I haven’t loved what has been given to me through this system or what I have viewed but because I want others to have a fully cohesive picture of what foster care consists of. 

I asked a friend of mine to talk about her time in foster care, and what she wishes foster parents knew as a child who was once there. I then asked if it was okay to tell other’s what she shared with me and she quickly said yes; she wants new foster parents to know what these kids feel like they needed to hear. So a huge thank you to my beautiful friend Heather for being this raw and honest and allowing me to share a part of her story. If you are or you know of any adults who have part of their foster care or adoption story to share, please contact me and I would love for them to allow me to use this forum as a way to share your stories.

“When people talk about foster care they are usually full of grief and despair that something like that would happen. In the age of social media people are not without opinions when it comes to lackluster parents. “That’s what those parents get!” They cry out when yet another child is removed from their care. However, the trend I’ve noticed is, in that moment of jubilation where a parent has been prevented from hurting their child anymore, people lack the compassion for the child who is suffering.

Some foster kids are lucky in the sense that, when they are removed, their siblings get to come with them. However, often times siblings are divided if the age gap is large enough. This means that in a single night a child can lose everything they love in the blink of an eye.

As a former foster child I remember to clearly my placement homes. In my first home the only person who spoke my language was the four year old daughter. At the time I was only three and still struggling to communicate in my first language. I was also very protective of my little brother who was placed with me, but only because he was still an infant just barely able to walk. I remember nights laying in our cramped bed, looking at him sleep. I didn’t understand then what I do now but in those times that little boy was all I had.

There were no comforting hands that wiped away tears and there were no arms to find comfort in.

We were alone and all one another had. In my time in foster care I cannot recall a single instance where someone sat me down and explained to me what happened to my life. All I knew is that I wasn’t allowed to see my parents for awhile and I had to live with strangers. “

You have to stay with these nice people for awhile,” they would say as they carried a small bag containing everything I owned to a door I had never seen before. At the time I didn’t possess the capacity to be inquisitive about situations I didn’t understand. All I knew is that I had to listen to the adults and do as they said when instructed.

I often wonder if my attachment issues are linked to days where I would cry after a phone call from my father, only to be met with hostility about making a lot of noise. I would shudder at the sound of the phone ringing most days because what if it was my estranged parent who I missed terribly? Why was no one comforting me in my time of loss? Was I not supposed to grieve that the only two people I had known my whole life ceased to exist outside of letters? Was I not supposed to be sad that I lived in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar faces and faced so many hearts barred from entry?

So many days I wished for someone to hug me and tell me that, while I was upset and crying, it was okay to feel the way that I did.

Didn’t I, an innocent bystander in this event, deserve just a little compassion?

So yes, be jubilant when a parent is no longer allowed to harm their child. Be excited that they will soon live better lives and hopefully be reunited with a healthy parent or two. But don’t forget that foster children are children that have had their bonds ripped apartment and are left to have their emotional tears be sewn back together. They don’t want to feel this way, they don’t want to be uncomfortable or feel unloved.

They want hugs, and kisses, and sympathy.

They want to be validated as human beings who are suffering.

They want someone to come in with a torch after the light has been snuffed out.”

Again, a huge thank you to this wonderful woman who has become a friend of mine as well as an amazing mother to her own two sons. Please read this with a heart that is open to recognizing the struggles children in foster care face.

If you have any interest in becoming a foster parent please ask any and all questions and I will try my darnedest to hook you up with the resources for your state. 

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6 thoughts on “Foster Care Friday

  1. Wow, so powerful. It’s so meaningful when someone can share what the experience was like from their perspective so other people can start to understand that world better. Thanks to your friend for sharing her story!

  2. Well said! I think as a culture, age is right, we zero in on sticking it to “the bad guy”, and need to me more focused on compassion for the hurting. We are at a crossroads right now with IVF/Adoption/fostering, and it is so tough!

  3. My cousins went through this after their mother died (complications of drug abuse) and they were finally removed from their father’s custody for child endangerment (taking them with him when he’d go buy drugs). Both girls were horribly manipulated by their first foster “mother” and were eventually placed separately with their mom’s sisters.

    It remains a hurt that won’t go away. This essay reminds me of what they no doubt experienced. Thank you for writing.

  4. This is so beautifully written and gave me a point of view on Foster Care that I’ve never been able to see before. Loved reading this! Thank you for sharing.

    P.S. I LOVE THE BERKSHIRES. I live in Western MA too in the Pioneer Valley but visit the Berkshires as often as possible 🙂

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