You Must Be Crazy to Be a Foster Parent: 7 Tips to Keep Your Sanity

Foster parenting is not for the faint of heart!  The goal in foster care is ALWAYS reunification with birthfamily, if at all possible.

And sometimes it isn’t easy. Supporting reunification can be difficult, especially given some situations of dysfunctional, unstable families on the brink of collapse.

But what if your home is much more stable? Can a foster parent support reunification if they feel they can provide a much more stable environment for a child? How can a foster parent support reunification knowing that a foster child will be going back to a dysfunctional home? As a foster parent, how do you keep your feelings in check?foster-parenting-emotions-tips

ebook-positive guidance-468-60

7 Tips for Foster Parent Emotional Health

  1. Remind yourself constantly that reunification with birthfamily is #1 priority (even if your heart you is telling you that you’d be a better parent).
  2. Take it one day at a time and love your foster children (and their birth family) unselfishly.
  3. Show love to the birthfamily during the process. Remember Mother’s Day, birthdays, Christmas, etc.  Our birthmother received her very first Mother’s Day card ever (with her third child) from our 10-month-old foster baby.  She bragged and bragged in court about her Mother’s Day gift.
  4. Treat your foster children as your forever children, then when they leave, go ahead and grieve.
  5. Realize that you will feel all sorts of emotions during the process – grief, guilt, selfishness, etc. – it’s okay to have emotional attachments to the children you raise.
  6. Realize that some foster children will be with you only for a while, but there will eventually be a child that needs a forever home.
  7. Pray!  Pray for yourself, your foster children, their birthfamilies constantly throughout the process. Give it all up to the One who knows all and can take your emotional burdens so you don’t have to.  He already knows the plan for you and your child’s future!

Foster parents just have to find their own way through the emotional roller coaster of parenting these children from hard places. God has a little one already planned for you… it may be this child, or it may be another one.  But someday you will have the forever child that has been waiting for you all along!

What are your tips to keep a foster parent’s emotions in check?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Brittany says

    11 years ago just before I turned 17 my little foster sister and brother were taken out of our home. It’s a long story, but basically our family thought we’d have to move out of state and they didn’t want that. From the beginning they were supposed to be ours forever after they were legally free. She was three and he was five. We had them for almost two years. We were told we could have contact but that never happened. So I have lived tortured for over a decade over wondering their fate, unable to know a single thing. I grieved and grieved and the pain has never fully died. I was just thinking on them the other day then purely by chance today came across this. While it pains me to see how similar so many of you must feel I wonder who else may have a story closer to mine. They didn’t go back to their birth mother. They were supposed to be adopted by us. The day they took my baby sister away from me was the most difficult of my life. How do you cope?

  2. rayann says

    as someone who is wanting to start the foster to adopt process this article was very comforting on many aspects!!! as far as caring for the wee-ones brought into your home and grieving should they be leaving. its great to know that you do get attached and its ok to be sad if they end up leaving! that has been one of my great reservations!

  3. Stacey says

    We are in the process of sending home to sets of kids. One is two sisters that we have had for 3.5 years and this will be the second time we are trying reunification. The last time it lasted for 7 weeks … At the same time 5 days later we will be sending two brothers home that we have had in our home for the second extended period of time. I am not sure how I feel with it all going on. I feel kinda numb and emotional all at the same time.

    • Jay says

      I think it’s wonderful you said “we” are trying reunification. As a social worker I can’t imagine what it is like to lose such a precious part of your life. Just so you know it is scary for us too!! However to me it seems like there is not another way. A parent who has incredible negative history in their own past and childhood has gotten to a point that they may be safe with their kids “we” can not stand in their way. 99% of the time the right thing will happen and everyone involved will find peace if they trust in good Faith. No matter what, the time those children have spent with you provides them with the hope of stability. No matter what they know what kindness and nurture look like, and now they have a point to build from. I do not know the pain but I hope that the pain does not outweigh the thought of the huge impact you can have. Even a little change and a small chance is worth it!

  4. Jen K says

    My 5 yo foster daughter was reunified in March, after being with us for 3 yrs. The feeling of loss & the worry of sending her back to a still unstable environment is intense.

  5. Jennifer says

    We just lost nariya after we have raised her since she was sux weeks ok’d she’s two and a half. I’m devestated.

    • kim says

      I have been where you are. I know your pain. We were blessed to care for a sweet baby girl from birth and had to say goodbye two plus years later. Grieve your loss, because it is real, it is deep, it is painful and it cuts to your very soul.

  6. Elizabeth says

    We raised our wonderful boy who came to us at 4 1/2. Loved him, wiped his tears, sat up through the night, advocated, supported, laughed, cried, went to cottages, out of the country on holiday. Made his 5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13 birthday parties. Graduated from Bob the Builder to HungerGames. He was supported from JK to Grade 8 by us. He will graduate next month. We won’t be there. He was returned to bio 7 weeks ago after 9 years with us.

  7. Judy says

    hi, I think that it is great that as foster parents you are also their to help the parents in their time of need and that’s one reason I want to be a foster parent to help children and parents if at all possible even though I do not see some foster parents doing just that but you all seem like great and loving foster parents

  8. Kay D says

    Glad I found this post. It’s nice to find something that supports the foster parent as being human and not just a temporary holding place for a child. I gave up my foster child to reunification 2 years ago. I had her from 3 days old until she turned 1 yr old. I had to give her up right before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays that year, and I can’t tell you how heartbreaking and depressing that was. But I continued to keep in contact with the child and her parents, and have even had to deal with the parents’ drama and personal issues while trying to maintain a relationship with the child. Even after all this time I still go through bouts of grieving, anger, jealousy, sadness. Of course I feel like my home offered a more stable environment and I’ve held on to the hope that her parents would fail her and I would someday get her back! But after visiting the child this weekend and seeing how she interacts with her parents and other relatives and is not looking to me as her primary caretaker anymore, and then reading this post, I realize I served a purpose, God put us both together for the time we were together for a reason, and It’s time to move on so I can take on the next child who hopefully will be a “forever” child.

    • says

      Thanks, Kay! I too had a little girl that was a “twin” with my forever son. I know that she is happy with her family & I’m blessed to have had a little girl to pamper, if only for a short while.

    • kim says

      Is it the hope of forever children that we foster? I hope that it isn’t. Yes, we treat these children as our own, we love them, shelter them, endure the chaos of their extremely difficult young lives and we grieve when they leave (oh yes, we grieve even if no one else sees – God hears the deep moaning of our heart). We help them to see there is another way to live, another way to love – there can be the beginning of healing from the traumas they have endured even when we have to send them back into the world they came from. God created children to long for the love of their birth parents, despite the dysfunction . . . even when they can no longer be with them. He created us to help these little ones even when it breaks our hearts to see where they came from and where they will return to. Each child in the system needs love, compassion, hope and a safe place to shelter their weary bodies and a place where they know without a doubt the family cares about the birth mom/dad left outside the foster home’s doors of safety. Foster parents make a difference in each and every life that passes their the door – even if we never see that child again.

  9. Merissa says

    Thanks for this. We’ve been through birth family reunification twice and went through a range of emotions in the process. Thanks for putting into words many of the thoughts we’ve had while fostering.

  10. says

    This last month has been awful! Truly! I think all foster parents are a little nuts. We have to be to deal with the insanity that takes place every day. These are great tips and praying is so very important. And don’t forget the prayer support of your friends.

    • says

      Thanks, Annie! Sometimes, I feel like I’ve gone nuts to have so much chaos in our lives. We usually don’t ask for prayer for ourselves, but this week we did!!! Feeling more sane already!

  11. James E says

    So true. My family fosters and we are adopting but as much as I love my kids I know having come from a broken home myself that most kids raised by someone other than their biological parents will spend years with an extra burden of wondering why their parents didn’t love them. Many as adults understand they were better off and that their families problems were not there fault but that understanding comes after years of carring a burden they couldn’t bear.

    • says

      Thanks, James, for pointing out about the burden of children from broken homes. It’s hard for kids to realize that they are kids and not in control of the situations that cause the brokenness. As foster parents, we just have to love them through the process.

  12. says

    Thank you for writing this. We are going through ‘transitioning’ our very first (and probably only) foster baby back to her Mama now. Little “Lulu” arrived in our home at just 2 months old. Our plan was always to adopt but now (at nearly 9 months old), we are finding ourselves learning to love and mentor her Mom as well and though it tears my heart out, I put a smile on my face for visits and am doing my best to prepare her Mom for being a Mom again.
    The peace God provides through prayer…knowing this little one is in HIS hands, is priceless at this time. I never knew I could walk this path and not crumble. Amazing grace.
    Thank you for reminding me that we’re not the only ones going through this. God bless you and all your little ones!
    Check out what Sabrina recently posted..Preparing our Hearts for Loss

    • says

      Thank you, Sabrina, for being Lulu’s mom for a time. Years after saying goodbye to our first little girl, I feel okay that I was her mom for that short time of her life. I still think of her, but if she were still with us, I wouldn’t have my Lil Bit – I can’t imagine my life without his preciousness in my life. There are other children that need a Mom, it’s just in His timing that you will meet them.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge