We found this lovely article in the New York Times by a foster mom about moving on and coping after a foster child left her care to live with extended family. We teach people that the primary purpose of foster care is providing temporary shelter while the system works to heal birth families. We want parents who choose to foster to be fully aware of this, even if their primary purpose in fostering is ultimately to become the permanent adoptive home to that child. It is, however, much easier to say than to do, especially if you foster well, if you fully and deeply love this child, which is exactly what this child needs and needed.
The NYT ran a whole series of essays written by this foster mom while her family fostered a 4-year old boy for almost a year. They are well written and so thoughtful. This family knew what they were getting into; they fully accepted on the intellectual level that this child may well not be the child that they could adopt. They were willing to love him and be his temporary home, but their love was not temporary, and it hurt when they were given 24 hours notice that he was leaving.
In this current essay, she writes about that pain several months out.
We can choose the cynicism, the sadness and the fear, or we can choose hope. We can shrivel up into a hardened ball, or we can pick ourselves up, dust off our arms, shake out our hair and press forward.
We can acknowledge our own heartache for what it was: The inevitable result of fully loving a child who was never really ours. There was no mistake in that.
We can let go of our worry and instead, believe in him. Believe that he’s strong enough to overcome the hardships of his early life, strong enough to thrive.
Do yourself a favor and read this essay. We’re so glad we did.Image credit: Ileana Soon