What Really Stinks About Foster Care



I finally made it up to her room nine days after she left.

I moved into the room slowly and left the lights off not wanting to reveal too much too soon. I’d been dreading this day for a little over a week but woke up on this morning in particular and felt the whisper that it was time. Time to move on.

We’d kept three little girls, three little precious princesses for a short period of time in foster care. But one of them stole my heart. Not that she was any more special than the other two, but she’d suffered the most and my mama’s heart just had a hard time letting her go.

I sat on the edge of the bed and whispered a prayer for all three of them because when you’ve physically done all you can do sometimes the only thing left to do is pray. I believe that sometimes that’s why we’re put in these children’s lives. And that truly is the most powerful thing we can do for them anyway.

The tears that were pooling in my eyes spilled over quickly and I did as I’ve learned. I let them fall.

After a while I made the bed and picked up some toys, dropped a heavy one on my foot and cried harder.

“Why in the world are we doing this?” I wondered. “Wouldn’t it just be easier to forget it all and not put myself through this agony of loving and letting go?”

That thought left as quickly as it came.

Because truth be told, I know it would be easier. But good things aren’t usually the easy things. And I’m in this, we’re in this, to love big and free and live out loud this James 1:27 gospel that we’ve been called to live.

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and keep oneself unspotted from the world.

I remember when we were going through PATH classes thinking that the hardest thing for me in this whole process would be attachment. It was frightening to think that someone might show up to our house one day with a child for placement and I might not be able to love them and care for them like my own. I was so afraid of feeling like any child we got would be, “the other kid.”

It’s funny how sometimes the thing you fear the most is the littlest hurdle you have to overcome.

Because the first little boy that showed up on our doorstep took that worry with his chubby little hand and threw it right out the window.

Three more came and we played with them, ate with them, cried with them and hopefully helped them begin to heal and then they left too.

Nine days after they left I felt the tug at my heart to go clean up the last room. God knew it was time because before the day ended we had another call.

Now we’ve got two more. For how long? I don’t know. No one ever does.

But this I do know. For as long as we have them I will love them, hold them, rock them, laugh with them, splash in the pool with them, grieve with them, sit with them while they’re in time out (big smile) and do anything and everything in between that will possibly nourish their little souls.

A friend of mine said something to me regarding foster care last week during a conversation we had and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. She said, “Sometimes we say no to things and forego some hard situations, but by doing so we miss out on some big blessings too.”

A truer statement has never been told.

If our family was not partaking in this process, we would have probably been able to go out to dinner at a nice restaurant as a family this weekend. We would have sat there and enjoyed ourselves over a good meal. I would have been able sit still during Tanner’s Kindergarten program without corralling the wild cowboys and Indians into our row at the chapel during his presentation.

I might have gotten a pedicure today or sat still by the pool and read a book.

Do all of those things sound nice? Sure they do. And I am so not above hiring a sitter one day soon to accomplish one or all of the above.

But while missing out on all of those fine things I would have also missed out on the little arms that hugged me tightly tonight and found comfort in my arms after getting knocked down at the park.

And I’d have missed the light in some big brown eyes when we got back from a walk around the neighborhood and one of the new little ones said, “we’re home.”

And the smile of satisfaction of another one when he learned to go, “up the stairs and down the slide” and then proceeded like so fifteen more times.

And the sound of crazy raucous laughter over a game of peek a boo.

So yeah, all of the hard things about being a foster parent really stink.

But you know what stinks worse?

That we could have easily let our fear knock us out of all the blessings that come along with it too.


  1. I too was a foster parent for 1 year but was fortunate that we were able to adopt them. I cant imagine my life without them and I have 3 older daughters aged 33,31,25. I now have a 5 year old and a 8 year old son. I will say it was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life but now 4 years later, I have secure children that before were neglected and born with drug addiction and had to be weaned off them as infants. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I will be 70 when all is said and done but like my husband said,”every child needs a chance at life and we will do this”.


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