Fifteen years ago, I started on a journey that has taught me more about myself and the world than I would have ever learned on my own. While stumbling along, trying not to get lost or too frightened to continue, I have been fortunate to meet some of the most amazing people. On this path I have experienced some of the best days of my life, along with some of the hardest.
It was in making the choice to become a foster parent that I was blessed to take this road and have experiences which have forever altered me. Being a foster parent is not the easiest thing I have ever done, in fact I would rank it as one of the most challenging. There is no painless way to love a child with all your heart and then send them back out into an unknown scary world.
Simply put, I signed up for this roller coaster ride called foster care because of the little people in the seat next to me. I became a foster parent because I firmly believe we all have a responsibility, even obligation, to care for the most vulnerable in our society: children. I stay a foster parent because I find extreme satisfaction in bringing happiness to a child’s face which was once consumed with fear and sadness. I encourage others to be foster parents because I have met too many children who are desperate for someone to stand beside them and shout to the world that they matter.
When asked to weigh the good and bad of foster care, the overwhelming positives clearly outweigh the few negatives. When a little girl shares with me her love for roses because they smell good and are so pretty and then declares she is going to change my name to Rosie, I forget the tears I will shed when she leaves. When a little boy finally masters a task, made difficult because of exposure to drugs before he was born, the broken toys and temper tantrums become but faint memories. When a mom is able to overcome an addiction, make steps to improve her life and is given custody back of her precious children, there is little else that compares to that joyful, heartwarming reunion and knowing you had a part in making it happen. Likewise, watching a forever family be created out of something so heart wrenching as a parent’s rights being terminated, is simple put, the best thing ever! Especially if you are the adoptive parent as I have been blessed to be.
Asking others to join us on this bumpy, crazy, worthwhile journey is not done lightly. Personally, I do not believe foster care is the only way for people to help children in need nor do I think this path is for everyone.
Fifteen years ago, I made a choice that has brought me more happiness, fulfillment and opportunity for growth than I knew was possible. I hope you take the time to join us and find out if this path is for you.