I happened upon an article entitled "What Foster Parents Wish Others Knew," and many of the points rang true for our family. We have encountered similar questions, comments, and sentiments. So I edited the article a little bit for our circumstances and wanted to share it here:
Foster Parents are not “special” or “saints” but are ordinary people.
We are doing this because it needs doing. Many do it because the Lord expects it from His followers: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). Some foster parents expand families this way, some do it for the pleasure of caring for a child, and some are compelled by the children of family or friends needing care. But all foster parents are the blessed ones – to care for precious children. The truth is the world needs more ordinary, human foster (and adoptive) parents.
Foster kids are not “fake kids,” and we are not babysitters. How children come into a family is not the point. While he is here he is our real son, he is our children’s brother. We love him entirely, treat him the way we do all our kids, and would never, ever forget him if he left.
Please be careful what you say around the kids (biological, adopted, and foster). Everyone is curious about the new baby in our home, and their excitement leads to lots of questions. Sometimes those questions are better asked when children are not present, such as: “Is the mom an addict?” or “Where’s his mom?” or “Do your kids like him?” We are truthful – yet careful – how we handle sensitive information with our children, and all our children love one another deeply. Just like you wouldn’t let someone talk “smack” about your mom or your brother, we are protective that way too.
Some questions should never be asked of foster parents. Some questions are hurtful, such as: “Doesn’t he have family who will take him?” or “What if the mom gets him back?” Those types of questions hurt, and honestly, foster parents don’t know the answers to speculation any more than you do. It seems that those questions are meant to stir up a reaction, and that’s not helpful considering all the raw emotions foster parents already have to deal with. In addition, many questions are private and foster parents aren’t allowed to reveal certain details.
Don’t hate on his parents. Birth and Foster parents often work really hard to have positive relationships with each other, so it doesn’t help to say ugly things about them. In fact, foster parents can have a sincere love and care toward the birth parents.
We don’t get paid. We don’t get government aid for being caretakers. Some foster parents can get a portion of the child’s expenses reimbursed, and that money is only for the child and does not cover everything.
When you say, “I could never do that,” it is hurtful. Letting kids go – and facing the reality that it might happen in our home – is really hard, but someone has to do it. It doesn’t make foster parents heartless or insensitive that they are able to endure it. Just because something is hard doesn’t make it bad, and no one is heartless for enduring pain for the greater good of their children. Any regular parent would put their children’s interests ahead of their own.
No, it’s not “official” yet. Lots of variables are at stake. The court system and government agencies are involved. This is a complicated process. It can take a long time. However, our hearts already feel “official,” and we are Mom and Dad regardless of a court order.
Everyone struggles sometimes. All parents struggle with parenting, but all parents deal with it no matter what. Saying or implying, “I told you so,” is never helpful. Yes, we knew that could happen. That doesn’t make it any easier.
Yes, we need help. Treat foster parents with a new placement the way you would a family that had a new baby – it is just as exciting! And of course, it is just as demanding, exhausting, and stressful. Most importantly, when you support foster families, you are showing compassion for orphans even if you are not able to foster or adopt.