The exact thing that you think disqualifies you from fostering, actually makes you a perfect candidate! As you can imagine, the state is really not interested in approving sociopaths who can’t form deep attachments to children.
I always feel deeply for current foster parents when they hear these statements. Many of them have been serving children sacrificially in the most heart breaking situations. They love their foster sons and daughters just as they love their own sons and daughters, while at the same time grappling with the reality that they may not always have the opportunity to care for and protect these little ones from harm.
One natural and necessary part of fostering is grieving. That may not be what you want to hear, but it’s true. While you do get to be a part of one of the most life giving experiences in the universe; watching a child heal from trauma and past wounds, you also have to spend time grieving when a child you love leaves you.
There is a reason Jesus is known as the man of sorrows. Walking in His path often means walking willingly in the brokenness and pain of this world in order to bring the healing power of the gospel.
Many of these situations of fostercare loss are bittersweet. It’s wonderful that a biological parent was able to reunify with their child, or the child gets to go live with a relative so that they can still be a part of their biological family, but you feel the loss of their presence in your home. Other situations are only bitter. Maybe legally a child has to return home but you are still anxious about their safety. Maybe a relative is found in another state that must be considered for adoption before you. Lastly, sometimes we have a wonderful and beautiful grief. Sometimes as a foster parent you will be the bridge for a child to move to their adoptive home. Meeting those adoptive parents and helping that child transition is joyous, but of course not without it’s pains. Likewise, having a child go home with a birth parent that you have formed deep bonds with is a wonderful thing, but also challenges our identity as moms and dads.
The bottom line in all of this is that as adults, we can be self aware and make plans of how we can deal with our grief in a healthy way. We have the maturity and psychological capabilities to be responsible and plan for these emotions. When dealing in foster care, it’s an advantage that you KNOW there will be losses at some point. More than this, we can find comfort in the fact that our God has felt this pain. God the Father was separated from God the Son on the cross. He is not asking us to do anything He has not already done Himself. Jesus felt that painful separation from our Heavenly Father so that we would never have to. This earthly pain is only temporary, and Jesus walks with us through it.
For these children we are serving, they do not have the maturity or capacities to deal with their grief. Their brains have not yet been developed and so the emotional centers take over. The survival centers take over. If they don’t receive help from a continuous, consistent caregiver, they may never heal or learn how to cope with emotions in healthy ways. These children who are never helped grow up to be dysregulated adults who turn to drugs, unhealthy relationships, or risky behavior to try to cope with big emotions. This continues the cycle of the need for foster care.
It’s hard to hear but this is bigger than you and your wants/needs. Helping a child in need has an eternal reward that you will probably never see on this earth. If you’re a Christian, this is something we are commanded to do regardless of the outcome (see James 1:27 and Isaiah 54). As much as it may feel like it, not even your family belongs to you. They too exist for the glory of God.
Please share this post with someone who has been thinking about fostering or someone who you think would be a great fit for fostering. This is a topic we have to bring to peoples minds because it is typically not easy to think about!! If you have any questions about the process in getting approved as a foster/adoptive parent, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Unfortunately I only know the rules for GA, so keep that in mind 🙂