My partner and I sort of fell into being foster parents, so you could say a whole lot surprised us about the entire experience. We really didn't stop to think about the fact that being a foster parent meant someone could show up at our door at 9:00 p.m. and, in so many ways, turn our lives upside down. In fact, my world changed when I became a foster mom, essentially and forever changing who I am as a person.
Most of us have a vague, stereotypical knowledge about the foster care system, so I didn't know the majority of the details or realities of being a foster mom until I was sitting with a malnourished baby on my lap, trying to figure out what she could wear since everything she arrived with was filthy and reeked of cigarette smoke. It didn't take long before I realized I had no idea what foster care was really like — in both good and difficult ways.
The first foster baby my partner and I had was only in our home for a week or two before she moved on to a different, long-term foster family. My partner and I were up with her each night, trying to fatten her up and responding to her every cry or cough until she left our home. We still cried with joy when she turned 1, and we cried with sadness when her biological parents' rights were terminated. The biggest surprise of being a foster mom is how quickly and deeply you feel like a mom to a child, no matter how short their time in your home is. So with that in mind, here's how foster parenting changed my life, and my world, forever: