Advocacy, Children in Foster Care, Encouragement, Family Support, Foster Parenting, Make a Difference MondaysAug. 31, 2015

Make a Difference Monday: The Inevitable Hurt In Foster Care And Why It’s Worth It

Conversation with someone I had just been introduced to, after it was mentioned that we are foster parents to two little ones:

Her: Are you able to adopt them?
Me: Well, we are dual licensed as foster-to-adopt, so we can if it goes that way.
Her: Do you know yet if you will be able to?
Me: No, it’s still too early in their case to tell.
Her: So you must really be keeping your hearts in check.
Me: No we fell head over heels long ago. We love these kids like crazy.

I don’t really understand the common misconception that foster parents are not supposed to love fully…as if they are supposed to love just enough to cover logistics and amenities, but that’s about all…as if there is a certain identifiable tipping point where you go from simply providing care to wholly offering love…as if there’s a way to know where that point is and slowly back away from it if you realize you are getting too close.

“Oops, I feel some love for this child, better squelch that right away.”

Huh?

I do understand why people say things like this lady did, about “keeping hearts in check”, “not getting too attached”, “fill-in-the-blank foster care buzz phrase about kids going home”. Because there’s a big chance for hurt in all this and people tend to avoid hurt at all costs. So I guess folks think there’s a way to guard your heart against that hurt, to invite children into your home but leave up a wall between you and them, so that when/if they are reunified with their family, it won’t hurt you so bad.

Who is prioritized first in that scenario? You.

Who comes second in that scenario? The child.

It needs to be the other way around. The child needs to come first. The child needs to be loved and cared for wholeheartedly. The child, who has faced walls maybe his whole life so far, needs an open door and open arms full of unbridled love, not another wall.

Because she is a child. And we are adults.

Because he struggles with basic life tasks. And we have it all together.

Because she has nothing but the clothes she’s wearing. And we have everything we could ever need.

Because his life so far has been nothing but hard. And our life so far has been easy.

She has been hungry. He has been beaten. She has been violated. He has been abandoned. She has been taken away from the only parents she has ever known. And we as comfortable adults are worried about ourselves being hurt?

It’s worth it. These children are worth it. Worth the pain and the hurt and the inconveniences and the unknowns.

When their sunken, shallow eyes brighten up…it’s worth it.

When their thin hair, dull from under-nutrition, fills out and shines…it’s worth it.

When the nightmares stop and sleep is peaceful…it’s worth it.

When tiny screams cease as drugs withdraw from a tiny body…it’s worth it.

When they pass their math class instead of failing…it’s worth it.

When they blow kisses and sing-song “la la love yooou”…it’s worth it.

When they cling to you through their tears of confusion and grief…it’s worth it.

We can provide a safe place amidst danger. We can provide hugs and smiles where there were none at all. We can draw out talent and skill and ability that was never given a nod. We can chip away at a beaten down spirit with self-esteem and worth. We can open our arms and hold tight when there is nothing else to do in the face of anguish.

Can we put ourselves aside for just a moment, take the focus off our own comfort just for a time, and consider the needs of these children instead? Can we stand up as mature adults and be willing to risk a little hurt in our lives in order to alleviate a lot of hurt for these innocent young ones?

Can we go so far as to pledge that we will welcome some hurt and pain into our lives, that we will jump head first into this crazy system, that we will stoop down and carry another’s cross, even for an unknown time, even while knowing that the result might bury us in sadness and break our hearts to bits?

Can we?

Anna Futral Anna Futral

Anna is a CPA in Central Texas and half of a couple who wanted to be a mom and dad but just weren’t that into the idea of having babies. After much prayer and research, she and her husband, Trent, felt called to build their family through foster care. They are now parents to three feisty, hilarious little kids who will soon become a forever part of their family. When she’s not working or chasing two toddlers while holding a baby, Anna blogs at www.missannapie.com about their foster-to-adopt journey and other life adventures.

Comments (6) Leave a Comment

  • I had this conversation yesterday. Again. I wish I could have said this as eloquently as you!! It’s crazy to me that we’d have to explain “putting others before ourselves” to people in the church. Thanks for this frank yet polite post. I’ll be sharing far and wide! #loveGodlovepeople 😍

  • Judy shirley says:
    August 31, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    We were in our late 60’s before we got into fostering.
    Has it brought us hurt, pain,sleepless nights, mountains of paperwork
    Restrictions on how we normally live…the answer is Yes, but it has also brought us
    Joy beyond belief. We raised four Son’s, had 8 Grand Children, and three Great Grand Children I was retired, and prepared to enjoy my golden years. My husband is a school bus driver. One day after hearing from a little girl how she was being abused he called me on his way home and told me between sob’s. He said we need to look into the Foster Care Orogram. We did, and started classes the following week. That was six years, and 35 children ago.we are now the proud parents of two beautiful Daughters.one was adopted three years ago, and one three days ago. I think of all the children that have passed through my home, and hope they are well, and happy. A part of me has gone with each one, and I pray for them all. I only wish more people would become Foster Parents. There is a great need. Please stop thinking ” I’m afraid I will get too attached “. Its not about you!

  • Love this article,

  • I have worked for five years with at risk youth, which includes foster kids, and I fully appreciate what you have said. Thanks for sharing.

  • AMEN and bless you!! As a CASA I have spent many sleepless nights hoping “my” kids were okay in their placements. I’ve struggled to identify any recommendations that truly are in their “best” interests and shed tears of frustration and sadness watching them being drug SLOWLY through the system. I’ve cried for siblings separated and given pieces of my heart to children I may never see again. But I thank God for giving me the heart of a mother bear and the strength and resources to stand up for kids that need me. I’ve been repaid many times over by the strength of an unexpected hug or the flash of a infrequent smile; and even once by a mother that had just lost her parental rights, she thanked me because I cared enough to love and look out for her children when she couldn’t. And yes, Anna – it’s worth it. THEY are worth it!!

  • My husband and I have been fostering in CT for 14 yrs. We have adopted 7 of our 9 children. It’s exhausting and exhilarating all in a days work. We been in every situation from fostering to adoption and even having to give back a child we had for 3 yrs who we were suppose to adopt. I wouldn’t change my life for anything. I can’t stop putting kids 1st. For those of you who do the same life’s work you will understand and those who don’t put anyone ahead of themselves will never understand.

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