19 May Foster Parents Are Not Superheroes
“I could never foster; I wouldn’t have the heart to give a child back after they have been in my home.” This is a common sentiment expressed to parents who are fostering or have fostered, but in saying this, one is making assumptions about something they do not understand. Foster parents are not superheroes; they are not their own breed of people that are stronger than anyone else and thus able to do really hard things and not suffer from it. Additionally, foster parents are not a unique group of people that do not have feelings. They attach to a child just as much as the next person so to assume that foster parents are able to give a child back and not experience great loss is to assume they have less capacity to feel.
Foster care, rather, is an opportunity for the grace of God to be made great in foster parents’ lives.
Most days, foster parents don’t know what the future will hold for the child they love in their home, but they receive the grace they need to trust the Lord and say yes to His sovereign plan. They are not people who can more easily love hard kids, but are given the grace to be able to pour out a parent’s love on a child that may or may not ever respond with affection to their pursuit. Sometimes, on those despairing days, when kids go home, or the effects of trauma have seemed to prevail and win, they are not resilient people, but ones who must bank everything in knowing that their strength is coming from God’s grace to get them through.
Lamentations 3 says “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” Just as the writer of Lamentations is mourning the loss of Jerusalem and being comforted by the Lord, foster parents find solace in the new mercies of the Lord when they are grieving the loss of a child in their home. For twenty verses prior to the author expressing hope, he writes in detail the affliction he faces and the pain he feels. “He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is.” On and on the author goes, until verse 21 when we see a dramatic shift.
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases…”
The hard but ever so comforting truth about following the Lord does not mean the absence of pain, but it means that we are not alone in the depths of our sorrow. In the midst of loss, the writer of Lamentations expresses confidence in God.
Responding to God’s call to care for the orphan and be a restorer of brokenness does not guarantee a happy ending, but the Lord does promise this: He does not leave you. He is not waiting on a hilltop for you to come out of darkness, but in the valleys, in despair, in loneliness, and during the days that feel unbearable because it is impossible to know when the agony will subside, He is right there with you with his arms wrapped around you.
We are not safe when we avoid things in life that can cause us pain; we are safe because, as believers in Christ, we have the great Comforter in the midst of pain and suffering. As the author of Lamentations writes, His mercies are new every morning and this is the promise in which foster parents stand.
*This post was written by Becky Wickes. Becky is a Family Coach with Stand Up Eight, a program designed to bring trauma-informed behavior management into the homes of adoptive families. Becky has been trained in Circle of Security, an early intervention program, and Natural Lifemanship, an equine-assisted psychotherapy. She is also a certified Trust-Based Relational Intervention Practitioner. Becky is a Court-Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, volunteer who advocates for the best interest of children while they are in the foster care system. Outside of the child welfare world, Becky is a CrossFit coach, a coffee snob, and thinks Austin is the greatest city on earth. She and her husband, Jon, enjoy rock climbing and trying out new restaurants.