The questions, comments and curiosities about foster care come with the territory when you bring a child into your home. They're an ever-present part of the whole experience.
While most encounters are hugely encouraging and civil, some are not so much. Yet even in those, although it may come across as such at times, I'm convinced the majority of people are not intentionally malicious or insulting - but are wondering - wondering what they are seeing, how to make sense of it and if they can go on with their normal lives as if they did not know what they now have seen to be true.
There's often deeper questions underneath those actually being asked, and more hidden thoughts and concerns behind those things actually being expressed. It's in those moments that foster care extends beyond just our care of kids into our care of those who are wondering, asking, considering and wrestling with what the meaning and implications are for what they are seeing and experiencing.
Here's the five most common things I've had said and asked to me about foster care along with some simple responses. The list is certainly not exhaustive for us all, but I hope these thoughts can be helpful for you as you engage those around you in your own unique and personal experiences.
"I could never do that."
We used to think the exact same thing about ourselves: We're just regular, normal people, and this seems like a very special thing for a special type of person. How could we do something that seems to require so much more than we think we have to give? We had to finally believe that it's less about what we think we can do, and our natural inclination to avoid hard and inconvenient things, and more about what we know God wants to do, even if it's hard and inconvenient. You're probably far more capable than you realize. After all, if normal people like us can do it then people like you definitely could.
"I want to but would get too attached."
That's a valid thought, but one that most people tend to think backwards about. Instead of letting the fear of getting too attached deter us, we should actually let the fear of these kids never feeling truly attached to someone drive us. These kids need people that are willing to love them enough to hurt for them if they ever have to let them go. If you know you'll get attached then that likely means you would be a fantastic foster parent. That's exactly what they need from you. And, in the end, is there really such a thing as getting "too" attached? Probably not for the sake of these kids.
"I don't feel called to it."
The opportunities to get involved in foster care are endless and full of creativity. A lot of people won't bring kids into their homes - as a matter of fact, most people won't. But that's just one place of many for people to get involved. Sometimes it's the simplest things - like bringing a meal or babysitting for a couple hours - that go the longest ways. We may not all be called to do the same things, but we're all certainly capable of doing something. I'd encourage you to find your something. How has God gifted and resourced you? What are you passionate about? What experiences has He given you? Perhaps He wants you to use those "somethings" for the sake of these kids. Perhaps, in the end, you'll find you're more called than you thought.
"They're blessed to have you."
It's funny how it feels like it's so much the other way around. We didn't anticipate it being like this going into it, but have since realized how much we have been blessed by having these kids in our lives. They've opened our eyes to see things we never could have seen on our own, our hearts to feel things we could have never felt on our own and our minds to understand things we never could have understood on our own. For whatever ways we are changing their lives they are no doubt changing ours exponentially more. We are certainly the blessed ones here. Our family is better because of them.
"Are you sure?"
This is a great question, one we ask ourselves nearly every day! Some days we are more hopeful than we are sure, but then others we struggle with hope, and it's on those hard days that being sure this is what God has called us to do is all we have to hold onto. We have to remind ourselves that we are sure, otherwise it's too easy to not be, believe all the reasons why we shouldn't be doing this, and then quit. I suppose we're about as sure as we were on our wedding day - knowing God had orchestrated it and being hopeful for what was to come, yet having no idea how beautiful and hard the high highs and low lows would actually be, but believing all along that it would be worth it. Every day we are sure of that - it's worth it.