You may be convinced that, as discussed in our previous post, children need attachment and it is good when foster parents get attached. Even so, the fear of heartbreak when a child leaves may still be a roadblock to becoming a foster parent. I cannot deny that this is a reality of foster care; I can only say is that it is worth it. It is better to have our hearts broken than have a child go without a family, even temporarily.
Most people would never willingly volunteer for heartbreak, but that is exactly what foster parents must do. As much as I personally dislike grief, if my heartbreak helps heal a hurting child's heart, then it is worth it. I am neither some sort of callous person who is unaffected by heartbreak, nor a hero who has exceptional powers to care for children and transcend the pain of grief and loss. I am a just regular person who has experienced the intense grief and heartbreak of saying goodbye to children I love, and I can tell you from the other side that it is definitely worth it. It is worth it because a child has been able to be well taken care of and loved during an extraordinarily difficult time.
I can say that it was worth it even when the grief lasts longer than we actually had the child in our home, as was the case for the children who were only with us a few days. One child was only with us two days, but without foster parents, that little girl would have had to be alone in a hospital room without someone to comfort her and hold her after a traumatic injury and surgery. She was so young and her stay with us was so brief that she will probably never remember us, but I am so glad we could prevent the additional pain of being on her own in such a painful and scary time. Getting to know this sweet, precious child was definitely worthwhile, and will always treasure our brief time together.
I can say that it is worth it even though I was forced to literally hand a child I loved over to someone I knew was not a safe person, against CPS’s recommendation, because a judge ordered it (not necessarily common, but it happens). I did not want to do it, but fighting it would not have changed the outcome for that child and would have prevented us from caring for other children or being available to care for that child if she ever returns to foster care. I still worry about her almost two years later, but we are so blessed we got to have her in our lives, even temporarily.
I can say that it was worth it even though I had to see a child go after being in our home for some time and forming strong bonds with him. Saying goodbye to him was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but it was still worth it because he was reunited with a family he loved and who loved him. Seeing a family healed and seeing him thrive after he went home was wonderful. I miss him terribly, but we are happy we could give him loving home while his family worked through a difficult time and we learned so much from him and from his Mom as well.
In the end, I, like most parents would rather suffer than have my children suffer. I just happen to not have given birth to those children, and my official parenting relationship with them is likely only temporary.
When children cannot safely remain with their families, it is a tragedy and foster parents stand in the gap, whether it's for a day or for a lifetime to help ensure that a child does not have to go without a family. Will you join us and say yes to heartbreak so that a hurting child can know the love of a family?