Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dear Parent(s) of My Foster Child

About a week ago I was compelled to write this blog in which I plan to address some things that foster parents would say in a heart to heart conversation with their foster child’s parents. I surveyed several foster parents and compiled a short list of things that I will elaborate on here. I wanted to say before I begin that these statements are very general and not directed towards any one individual. Also, the things reflected upon will be my own thoughts, and since I am a Christian that will play a central role in what I write. This will be written as a Christian foster parent to the child’s parent(s). I understand that situations vary and not everything that I write can be applied to every case. With that said, here goes . . .

Dear Parent(s) of my foster child,

Until recently, you and I did not know one another. Now, our paths have not only crossed, but we have a new and very awkward relationship. Your children, whom I will assume you love very deeply, now live in my home and you don’t even know me. Because you love them, I am sure this is something that has caused you to lose sleep. I wanted to take a little time to say a few things that I pray will comfort you and be helpful to you as well.

1. The love of Christ compels me. I do what I do motivated by this one great thing. The Bible says, “For the love of Christ compels us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:14-15).
            I do not do this for the money. In fact, there is not really much money involved. Depending upon the age of the child, foster parents receive a small per diem which averages out to between sixty to eighty cents per hour.
            I do not do this for the accolades. In fact, there really aren’t any. In many ways foster care is a pretty thankless job. In fact, many people think we are crazy for doing this and some of them even tell us we are. It is also not uncommon for the parents of a foster child to show no appreciation, and to even treat the foster parent as an enemy.
            I have countless social workers make visits to my home. Your child’s case manager comes to my home, sometimes scheduled and sometimes by surprise. In addition, we are visited by your child’s CASA worker and the director makes occasional visits as well to inspect our home. We do not enjoy all of that. I mean, who really enjoys having government social workers in their home regularly?
            Again, the love of Jesus for us and my love for him is what compels me to take children I do not know into my home for foster care. It reminds me of the Gospel. When I was down and out and lost in my sin, Jesus Christ rescued me and brought me into his family as his own child. He will do the same for you if you will turn towards him by faith, acknowledging Him as lord and receiving Him as Savior.

2. I am not your enemy. In fact, I hope you will consider me both a friend and a partner. I am not trying to replace you. In fact, I talk about you often to your child and when I do I speak positively.
            Chances are you are angry at several people. Whether your anger is justified or not I do not know, but it is not justified towards me. You see, I am a volunteer. Because of the love of Christ, I went through the burdensome process of becoming a foster parent. I did not select your child. I was called to see if I could take your child in and I agreed to do so. When the social worker called and gave me a brief description of your child, I was torn between the knowledge of the extra responsibility that I would be taking on and the reality that this child needed someone to love him during this time in which his world has been torn apart. So, I decided to let that someone be me.
3. I love your child and you. I really try my best, by God’s grace, to love your child as my own. Because of the love of Jesus, I loved your child before I ever met him. At first, he was skeptical of me. He did not know who I was, but found himself suddenly in the home of a stranger. But, just as my love for him has increased more and more, he has discovered that I really care about him and he loves me too. I have tried to make life as normal as possible for him. In addition to making sure that all of his physical needs are met, I try to make sure that he knows he is safe and loved. Over time, we have become pretty good friends.
            Because of the love of Christ, I also love you. I hope that even through the awkwardness of our relationship we can become friends. It would be nice to be able to have such a relationship that you could trust that I am going to provide the best care possible to your child and I could trust that you are going to respect the position which I have been placed into as a foster parent.

4. Foster care is not my life. That simply means that I have a life that extends well beyond foster care. In fact, I have my own family. We are often very busy just doing life. As a part of my family, temporarily, your child will also be included in our family activities and will be living according to our schedule. I believe that constant communication with you is very important as it keeps you informed about what is going on in your child’s life. But please do not abuse that. I have to put boundaries in place to protect my family and our time. I do ask that you respect those boundaries.

5. I want you to succeed. I believe that the best place for a child to be is with his parents. I want your child to be reunited to you. I do hope that can happen. It is not my goal to keep your child permanently. You have some things to accomplish before reunification will be possible. I want to see you succeed at that. I do hope that you will work towards fulfilling the goals of the case plan laid out for you. By God’s grace, you can do it. You have been told what you need to do to get your child back. It is up to you to get it done. I know that some of it will not be easy. Some of it you might even consider to be unfair, but when I look into your child’s sweet eyes I know that he is worth your best effort. I will be in your corner cheering for you and hoping that you make it to the finish line. I will pray for you, that God give you strength to make it and that ultimately, you find in Christ the true victory you need.

Your child's foster parent


Unknown said...

Wow well said. If you do not mind I would love to steal thus and share it with all the foster parents I know!

imbizable said...

Very, very nice. I like how you let Jesus take the load of reasons why you love and are, at this point loved.