Perhaps you read in the news recently about the foster parent who abused their foster child. You might have even read in the news about the infant who died in foster care, under the supervision of the little child's foster parents.
Tragic and heart-wrenching!
It should come as no surprise that our media is focusing on these stories. Of course they are. The media likes to shine the light on those stories that garner attention; those stories that disturb; those stories that readers are interested in. You know, those stories that are often focused on the horrible and the shocking. You might think that all foster parents are bad people. You might think that all foster parents are in it for the money. You might think that all foster parents don't care about the children in their homes.
I am not that kind of foster parent.
When a child from foster care comes into my family, and into my home, they become a part of my family, they become an important part of my home. In my house, there is no difference between one of my biological, adoptive and foster children. In truth, there are no labels. They are indeed all my children. Each child is loved with as much love and compassion as I can possibly give. I am like that mamma bear who fights for her cubs. I fight for my foster children with all that I have. It doesn't always make me popular with the case workers. It doesn't always make me popular with the birth parents, or the court systems. Yet, that is no matter. These are my children, and I will fight with all I have to protect them and keep them safe. I will do all I can to make sure they are safe, they have all they need, and that they are loved.
For a foster child who may have been abused, beaten, or neglected, this type of love is most important. Without this type of love, a foster child will not form necessary and healthy attachment with others, resulting in a number of attachment disorders. Emotional difficulties such as a of lack of self worth, trust, and the need to be in control often result in the lack of unconditional and healthy parental love. As anyone who has worked with foster children will tell you, most foster children face an enormous amount of emotional issues, many times stemming from the lack of healthy love.
To be sure, the vast majority of foster parents I meet are the same way. As I travel across the United States, working with foster parents, I hear stories that are similar to my own. We care for these children because we DO care. Is it easy? Many times, it is not. Do we see signs of reward? Often times, we do not. Do others place false assumptions and judgments upon us foster parents? Daily -- from friends, family members and strangers. I have found that the general society does not really understand or appreciate what foster care is about. They do not realize what foster children go through each day, nor for that matter what foster parents go through, either. Even my own friends and family members do not fully understand what my wife and I experience each day as a foster parent, or really why we do it.
I even have family members who question why my wife and I continue to take children who are in need into our hears and home, after all these years, and after all the sleepless nights and stress-filled days.
Yet, these children need someone to protect them and shield them from harm. These children need someone to care for them, and provide stability. These children need someone to love them. These children need me. I am that foster parent. I will answer that call, and I am not alone in this.