My Biggest Fear About Being A Foster Parent Isn't The Kids, It's Me

Ad failed to load

Last week, I sat down and scheduled our first home visit with the social worker who is helping us start the process of becoming foster parents. The week before that, my husband and I were both fingerprinted for background checks. Everything was routine and by the book. The only surprise was that when I went to press "send," I hesitated.

It was only for a second, but it bothered me. In bed that night, after my husband had long since fallen asleep, I found myself searching my brain for a reason. Why was I nervous? We’d been talking about this off and on for long enough before finally taking the plunge. We'd weighed the pros and cons and discussed so many worst-case scenarios. We were ready.

I knew what didn’t scare me.

Ad failed to load

I’d done enough research to know better than to be afraid of the children we will, eventually, bring into our home. Sure, they may have difficult behaviors or troubling emotions, and it will take time to adjust as a family. But really, these are mostly scared children whose lives have been torn apart. These are children who need a safe place to call home for however long they are with us.

I am not afraid of saying goodbye multiple times to children we've grown to love. The foundational purpose of foster care is to give children a safe place until they can be reunited with their families. It will be hard, letting go, but it’s what is best for them, to be in a healthy family unit with their biological relatives. While it’s true children in the foster care system may eventually be adopted if they cannot be reconciled with their families, adoption is not the goal of foster care. In fact, I’ve been told adoption is considered by some to be a failure of the system — because the system is in place to reunite families.  

Courtesy of Mary Sauer
Ad failed to load

People parent large families well everyday. Still, I’d be lying if I said the practical logistics of having more children in our home aren’t a little daunting. But that isn’t really it, either. We’ll learn how to manage feeding, bathing, and dressing more bodies. 

So, what was it about foster parenting that was all of a sudden giving me pause? What am I afraid of?

I realize, now, I’m afraid I don’t have what it takes.

Ad failed to load

That Tuesday I had a particularly hard day at home with my two girls. I ended the day feeling as if I was the world's most inadequate mother. I was frustrated and disappointed by my lack of patience. I was sure I had been on my phone too much, raised my voice too often, and let work interfere with my parenting.

And on that day, after coming to grips with my numerous failings as a mother to my own children, I was forced to reevaluate our decision to become foster parents. I had to take an honest look at what will be required of me, emotionally, by another child (or two). Because this isn’t just any child; this will be someone with exceptional need. And along with that need will come regular visits with their biological family or adoptive parents.

I want to believe I can be patient when that child acts out or refuse to take it personally if he or she doesn’t reciprocate my affections. I want to believe I will respond with optimism and kindness if things are volatile, scary, and during visits with their family. But, really, I have no way of knowing for sure.

Ad failed to load

The truth is, there are a lot of unknown ahead of us as we embark on this new season in our journey as parents. Do I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that foster parenting is going to go well for us? Can I promise myself I will be patient? Do I know I won’t get burnt out nurturing the precious lives that move in and out of our home? I can’t, which is why I find myself afraid every time we complete another step in this process and move closer and closer to opening our home -- and our hearts.

We’re not the most equipped parents in the system. There is no way for me to know I will be patient enough or understanding enough. In fact, I am 100 percent positive I will mess up over and over during each child’s time in our home.

Still, we keep moving forward.

Ad failed to load

We’ve scheduled our initial home visit. After that, we’ll take nine weeks of classes before applying for licensure, and we’ve already begun to talk with our families about our choice. My husband and I are discussing how we'll prepare our children who are too young to understand foster care but who will certainly be affected by our choice.

Our personal belief system actually compels us to care for the orphans and the oppressed in our world, and this is how we have decided to move forward with that calling. However, I want to be clear: We aren’t taking these steps forward out of obligation. Our hearts are drawn to these children. When we hear stories from our friends who foster or read stories about foster parenting, we feel an inexplicable nudge. We simply know this is what we want to do.  So we keep replying to emails, signing up for classes, and asking questions because we can’t stop wanting to be a part of their lives.

That’s why we will face our fears. We will offer our home and our love and all of our imperfections, and we will hope, just maybe, it will be enough to make a difference in their lives.  

Ad failed to load

And I will hope I am enough to fill in as "Mom,” even if only for a short time. 

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

6 Early Signs You're Going To Have A Short Labor, According To Experts

As far as I'm concerned, a short labor is right up there with winning the lottery in terms of lucky life events. (And when I was actually in labor, I would absolutely have traded a bucketful of lottery winnings for a speedier birth.) While some women…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In March

You can always count on Netflix to keep it fresh: though there are already so many movies and shows to choose from, every month there's an influx of new content to keep your entire family entertained. As February enters its final weeks, it's time to …
By Megan Walsh

Here Are 10 Ways To Boost Your Baby's Immunity To The Flu

As I'm sure you've read in the thousands upon thousands of articles written about it this winter, the flu is spreading like wildfire and it's bad. Really bad. This strand of flu is the worst we've had in a very long time and it's the most widespread,…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Khloé Kardashian Asked Twitter About Her Bump, & Moms Totally Delivered

Like her younger sister Kylie Jenner, Khloé Kardashian managed to keep most of her pregnancy a sort-of secret. But unlike Jenner, Kardashian chose to publicly announce her pregnancy several months before the baby's due date. While there's no wrong wa…
By Sophie Hirsh

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

An Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the t…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack