“You and your husband are saints.”
Have you ever heard this when people find out you are a parent? No?
For most of us, it would seem awkward to hear this. But somehow, this is the first thought many people have when they find out you are a foster parent.
Yes, I know, foster care is still very much a taboo subject, and there’s the perception that children in foster care are tough to deal with. So the trending thought is that one *must* be a saint to go through with this challenge.
May is National Foster Care Month, and I stopped by to remind you that kids in foster care do not need saints, but they do need love. There are more than 430,000 children in the U.S. child welfare system, and, unfortunately, there are not enough foster parents.
While my husband and I view our journey as foster parents as a calling, we consider ourselves just regular people. Like many others, we had a cautiously optimistic view of fostering, and we knew we wanted to make a difference in the lives of children.
Was it always easy? No. But parenting isn’t easy for anyone, if we’re being truthful. Just as parenting a biological child comes with both joys and challenges, so does parenting a child in foster care. The difference is that a foster parent’s role is sometimes only for a season.
But the ultimate goal is the same: To raise a child to become a productive citizen in spite of his or her circumstances. You truly have to believe that you have done all you can when it is time for that child to go home or to move on to a permanent family.
We understand that not all individuals have the capacity to be foster parents — and that’s OK. There are many roles to fill in a foster child’s life. Consider mentoring. Consider cooking a big pot of spaghetti for a local group home. Consider donating new toys or gift cards for birthday celebrations; sometimes foster children, especially those in group homes, do not get to celebrate birthdays in a big way. Consider using your talents to serve — one that comes to mind is that of a photographer. Perhaps you could capture a child’s special moments for his or her eventual forever family.
Shelby County alone has more than 1,500 children in foster care, and half of those children are 12 and under. You may not be able to help all 1,500 children, but even if you could only help one by opening your heart and home to a child in need, it is well worth it.
A saintly parent is not needed; only a loving one.
Interested in becoming a foster parent? Visit the National Foster Parent Association for general guidelines on what being a foster parent involves. You can also visit the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services to complete an inquiry form.