A few thoughts on foster care from the first year.

Several of you have asked me to write about my fostering experience, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts about that. Obviously, I can’t write details, but I can give you some general thoughts.

In some ways, fostering at my age is like being a grandmother except that I have full time care of the child. We love seeing all of B’s “firsts”, from big things like seeing Disney and having his first airplane ride, to small, daily things like learning to wink and trying apple pie.

Fostering is emotionally draining on levels I never knew with my own five. It requires wisdom about how to interact with the family (kinship), DCF, court, lawyers, etc… Everyone has a say and their own set of expectations. Ultimately, my job is to advocate for little B and do what is best for him.

As a homeschooling family, DCF was always portrayed as the monster lurking in the background ready to snatch your kids if you didn’t put them into the public school system. I can honestly say that I’ve had nothing but REASONABLE interactions with DCF. They’ve been pleasant, helpful, resourceful, and really quite “hands off” in our case. Yes, we had to meet certain requirements and they came to the house each month, but B’s case worker honestly just wanted to see him safe and thriving and was relieved to see that he was. She was overworked, and still had time to sit in my living room and talk about fun stuff B was doing. I can’t imagine the brokenness she’s seen at her young age (27-30 years old maybe) and I certainly couldn’t do her job without becoming depressed, but she was amazing and upbeat to all of us.

Fostering brings out the best in people. Someone has said that you can tell a lot about a person’s character by the way they treat someone who can do nothing for them in return. There are people who just ooze with compassion for our little guy. You can see it in their eyes–they just want this little guy to land on his two feet and their hearts hurt for his little plight. They text that they are praying for him. They give him toys and more toys. And it’s true that if you want to love people well, love their kids–or in this case, their foster kids. We’ve been so amazed by the good friends God has given us.

On a spiritual level, fostering has taught me to love without strings attached and simply for the good of the person.

Fostering has also opened up doors of ministry.  It’s put me back into the throws of younger mothers who want to do play dates and meet for coffee. When they ask me for help with parenting, I’m not talking from a “rosy” “I remember when” nostalgic view which can forget how hard the day-in and day-out really is. I can speak from a place of both experience from my adult children, and compassion and understanding from my 2 year old. I totally get it when they tell me that their toddler is taking a tantrum and they are too exhausted to read their Bible in the morning with any intelligent attempt at study.

Fostering has shown me a little more about the effects of sin on other people, and has made me more aware of my own sin. No man sins in a vacuum. It ripples out and punishes “innocent bystanders”, whether it’s heroin use or a bad mood to selfish behavior.  No where do you see little ones paying for the sins of their parents like in the foster care system. It opens your eyes to the brokenness of this world like nothing can. Any of you who’ve read here know that I have a particular HATRED for cruelty to children in any form. So to read and see the brokenness surrounding these kids makes me sob. Fostering has made me hate sin more and love God more. It’s also made me thankful for the ministry of reconciliation that Jesus Christ made possible. The gospel truly is good news for this broken world.

Fostering has taught me to embrace every season with gratitude. I can’t do what I could do a year ago because I have a God-ordained job to do right here with this little guy. I don’t write as much as I did, I’ve declined speaking invitations, I’ve backed away from things that would be good and pleasant to do, but that aren’t best for us or Little B right now, and God has given me joy in that obedience. Seasons change, moms. Embrace the NOW with your little ones.

“”Don’t let the fear of loving a child who might leave deter you. Let the fear of a child not knowing love drive you.”

That’s about it for today. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments or message me. Have a great week.

 

10 comments

  1. Moni says:

    My dear Sarah, the fostering system needs more folks like you and Peter to foster children from broken families. There aren’t enough willing to open their hearts to these children. There are plenty who are willing to open their doors. My husband can attest to that for as you know he is a product of the foster care system. His experience wasn’t as positive at little B’s is and for that reason we are so delighted for B. He is a little boy thriving on the love that surrounds him. Thank you for sharing this. I know of another young woman who is fostering a boy much older than B who has not been shown such love until the family he is with took him in. I will forward this to Adrienne, who is a friend of hers. I think it will be such an encouragement to her. May God continue to bless you all as you, Peter, your family and B travel on this journey together. He is a very blessed little one. George and I love you all.

    • Sarah Beals says:

      Little B loves you guys because he knows Papa George has a soft spot for him. 😉 I wish this world was more just for all kids. Makes me want heaven.

  2. Amber says:

    Thank you for sharing. Foster parenting has been on my heart for a year now, and I’ve been heartily praying about it. My husband and I are attending an informational meeting soon, and I’m nervous and excited about what the future may entail. Prayers to you in your journey.

    • Sarah Beals says:

      It’s the craziest ride, Amber, but in the end, you find out that though you thought you were making a difference for the child, THEY change you in all the best ways. It’s so worth it. God bless you on this journey.

  3. Kim says:

    Your love for sweet B is an example to us all. Thank you for these beautiful lessons shared with us and for loving like Jesus. B is so blessed! :)

  4. Melinda says:

    Can i borrow this quote? Im a foster mom too and i love that!
    Don’t let the fear of loving a child who might leave deter you. Let the fear of a child not knowing love drive you.”

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