4 Unexpected Joys of Fostering
The children are obviously the main joy of foster care. Watching them grow, heal, and open up is the most rewarding part of being a foster parent, but there are many other joys that came as pleasant surprises along the way.
1. The difference you can make in a very short period of time
We became foster parents to make a difference in children’s lives, but that takes time. I didn’t realize that we could have such a positive impact even children who were with us for a very short time. One of our children was non-verbal and had many physical and developmental needs. It was amazing to see how much he progressed over the three months he was with us. In that time, he learned a number of words and signs, gained weight, improved in physical coordination and motor skills, and became less aggressive. To see so much growth in so many areas in just a few months was a great joy to us.
2. The foster parent community
Foster parents often get a bad rap, but I have not personally met a foster parent who is in it for the wrong reasons. The people we have met are incredible people with big hearts. Though we have only been foster parents for two years, some of our closest friends are now other foster parents. We love that they totally understand what we’re going through, but they’re also the type of people we would want as friends even if we weren’t both foster parents.
3. The dedicated professionals who work hard to protect children
Though many people cite “the system” as one of the downsides of foster care, there are some amazing people who are part of that system and trying to make a difference for children too. I have felt so encouraged by these hardworking professionals and am so glad I got the opportunity to meet them. Whenever we go into the main office for a meeting, there are so many people we want to visit while we’re there and they are always genuinely excited to see us as well.
4. Seeing birth family successes and reunions
We got into foster care wanting to help families, but I didn’t realize how much of a relationship we would build with some of the children’s families. Though it wasn’t advisable in every case, we have been so glad for the family members we did get to know. It is so clear how much they love their children and how hard they are working so their kids can come home. We can share in the happiness of the child and family when the parents make positive changes in their lives and when families are successfully reunited. It is always heartbreaking for us every time a child leaves, even if it is the best thing for them. Despite the grief, however, we can also rejoice with the child and family and it makes it a little bit easier to let go when you know they are returning to people who love them. Because we built good relationships with some of the parents while the children were in care, we have also been able to keep in touch with a couple of our foster children’s families when they returned home. We have been so happy to see the children thriving and their families flourishing.