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

by Penelope · 14 comments

in Concerns,Foster Care

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

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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?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Judy March 6, 2014 at 9:45 am

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

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2 Kay D December 3, 2013 at 11:20 pm

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.

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3 Penelope
Twitter: Foster2Forever
December 11, 2013 at 5:34 am

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.

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4 kim February 6, 2014 at 10:49 am

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.

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5 Merissa November 18, 2013 at 8:18 pm

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.

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6 Penelope
Twitter: Foster2Forever
November 26, 2013 at 9:03 am

Thanks, Merissa! Foster parenting can be a difficult journey. Children are a blessing, if even for a short while.

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7 Annie October 9, 2013 at 3:49 pm

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.

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8 Penelope
Twitter: Foster2Forever
October 14, 2013 at 9:58 am

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!

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9 James E October 9, 2013 at 8:24 am

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.

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10 Penelope
Twitter: Foster2Forever
October 14, 2013 at 9:54 am

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.

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11 sonya October 4, 2013 at 1:12 am

i have been praying for myself a lot lately. we’re about to go through the biggest decision, transition our family has ever experienced.
such a good list of things to keep in mind!
Check out what sonya recently posted..some people become parents…

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12 Penelope
Twitter: Foster2Forever
October 14, 2013 at 9:42 am

Yes, Sonya, our decisions as foster parents are life-changing for so many others. Praying for you and your family during this transition.

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13 Sabrina October 3, 2013 at 11:41 am

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

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14 Penelope
Twitter: Foster2Forever
October 14, 2013 at 9:37 am

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.

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