Why You Should Never Give Up On Foster Care

We were foster parents for 9 years. They were extremely long and difficult at times. To be honest, we almost quit, especially when it seemed that we couldn’t take one more day. But looking back we are eternally grateful that we didn’t give up. We would have missed out on several big blessings!

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I get it! Let me just say that clearly before we go too much farther. I completely understand why people want to walk away from foster care altogether. If you’re not dealing with difficult case managers, a court system that says one thing but does another, birth parents who continually bail on visitations, you’re dealing with children who are pushing you to your absolute limit!

We’ve been there. We have the scars to prove it. So, I get it.

In 2008, just 4 years after we began taking placements, we had both had enough. One of our placements was diagnosed failure to thrive, requiring round the clock care, and multiple feedings through an NG-tube daily. If we pushed the formula through the tube too fast, she would almost certainly vomit, and vomit a lot! To make matters worse, she was completely wild and out of control. At 3 years old she wouldn’t make eye contact with us nor listen to anything we told her. Kristin and I looked at one another one night, around 2 or 3 am, as we cleaned up the latest river of vomit, and knew exactly what the other was thinking- “This isn’t worth it!”

One weekend became one month, one month became 4 months, and 4 months were quickly turning into an entire year. At first the birth parents were accusatory every time we had visitations. We couldn’t do anything right. The case manager was cold and always preoccupied with other cases, and our other children were dealing with the trauma of watching their parents stretched so thin they could hardly make it to the next day. By November of that year, the children were reunited with their birth parents and we found time to breathe. And breathe we did.

This is not what I signed up for.

Several months ago I listened to several men, all foster parents, pour their hearts out, and share their wounds. “This is not what I signed up for,” one guy admitted, through tears. “I hate myself for some of the things that go through my head,” another shared. “I feel like I’m failing.” “I don’t want to do this anymore. I keep asking myself when it will be over.” Many of the children in their care were severely traumatized, difficult to handle, out of control and it was taking a toll on them, their marriages and their biological children.

My heart broke for all of them because I had many of the same wounds. I’ve walked this road. I too have shaken my fist at the heavens and told God that, “This was not what I signed up for.” I’ve looked at the children in our care and felt zero sympathy or affection toward them and hated myself for it. I know the guilt of wishing, even praying that the case manager would call and say they’ve found a different placement or the children were being reunited with birth parents soon. I have felt the frustration of trying to handle an out of control child and make sure my other children were okay and cared for.

There were days, especially in 2008, where I would’ve quit foster care on the spot if my wife had decided to, no questions asked. But, as I stand here and look back on our journey, 7 years later, I am glad we didn’t. We would’ve missed some amazing blessings that we couldn’t see from where we currently were at the moment.

You Have No Idea!

My 8-year old son Eli has an interesting perspective on the world around him. He makes me smile almost everyday with the words he uses and the funny things he says. I look at his 2 younger brothers and feel the same way. In fact, last night as I snuggled up to my 7 year old son, Jake, my heart filled up. “Gosh, I love this kid!” I thought to myself. “I couldn’t imagine my life without him!”

If we would have quit in 2008 we never would have known them. The two of them and our youngest son, Sam, came into our care in February 2009. When we were in the midst of our darkest moments in 2008 we couldn’t see very far into the future. Nor could we have believed, for one second, that a day would come, years into the future, where things would not be as difficult or defeating as they were then.

Truth is, you may not see your story unfold in the first 3 years, 5 years, or even 6. We didn’t. We didn’t see the beauty of our family really unfold until 2012, eight years after we started foster parenting. It was a hard, defeating, and exhausting journey. One we thought would never end and eventually kill us. You may feel the same way right now. You may feel like this isn’t worth it or that you made a mistake and you just want to opt-out! Hang in there. Stay the course. Keep moving forward. Don’t quit! You have no idea how powerful the story is that you and your family are telling to the world. You may not see that story for what it is for years.

If we would have given up, and quit on foster parenting, we never would have known our 3 youngest sons. I couldn’t imagine our life without them!

Question: Are you struggling through foster care right now? How can we help? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Ruth

    Thank you for expressing your thoughts on here. I or should I say we completely understand all that you have written. We have been fostering for 10 yrs. it has been incredibly challenging and yes we have almost thrown in the towel and quit. I am so very thankful we didn’t as we would not have the two beautiful children we raise today.

    • Oh you are most welcome Ruth. Gosh, yours is one of those stories we LOVE to hear. Keep up the good fight.

  • Sarah

    Our SW literally just removed a boy from our home who had been running and telling the police that we were “one of those abusive foster homes.” The police believed him and even took him out to eat at midnight during one of his run episodes! He’s 11! CPS actually called us to investigate and I broke down crying on the phone telling her that we “quitting foster care.” It was too much and put our bio kids and other foster son in danger. =( I don’t know why God brought that one boy to us, but I pray that he doesn’t look back at his time here and actually believe the lies the enemy is feeding him (that we don’t care, etc). I also think I have secondary trauma from caring for him. =(

    • Sarah

      btw, we’ve been fostering 2 years, 15 kids! We had been hoping to adopt, but then we just saw the need and took whichever child God brought to us.

    • Oh….my…..goodness!!! Sarah, I can’t believe that happened to you. We are shocked and appalled that professionals would do that. So sorry. When I read your comment to Kristin she said, “I hear ya sister!” Hang in there.

    • Jeanette Bousman

      We had a very similar thing happen with two brothers we were fostering. They were both fetal alcohol (and confabulated ALL the time), and yet, the case worker took everything they said hook, line and sinker. We did suspend our license for a period of time and concentrated on our adopted son, who is also FAS.

  • Amanda

    Please pray for us. We have been trying to get licensed since Nov and things keep coming up. Our agency has lost paperwork and numerous things have changed requiring more paperwork or rearranging in the house. I keep asking God for wisdom because we don’t know if it’s him trying to tell us not to do this or if it is just the process. We know God has called us to foster care, but we are just needing wisdom on the timing of it all. Please pray God brings us wisdom!!

    • Oh Amanda, we certainly will. Hang in there. We’re in your corner and in this trench with you.

    • Lisa

      We’ve been there. We wanted to foster to adopt but no one in our area had any idea what we were talking about. It was still a new concept at that time. Then when we decided to go through an agency in Denver (4hours away) but then we had a house fire before getting certified. That took another 1 1/2 years. Now we have two adopted and are looking forward to having two more. God’s timing is perfect. It’s very hard while waiting, but when you look back and see the hand of God at work it’s absolutely amazing!

    • Ashton

      I often say that there are many times where we could have walked away claiming, “God closed the door. It wasn’t meant to be.” The truth of the matter though is that many doors closed and we often felt trapped with no way out but God wanted us to bust those doors down and with his help we did over and over again! When you sign up to foster and adopt you will encounter spiritual warfare like you’ve never known. Satan hates this work, but it’s close to the Lord’s heart.

  • Bailey

    I sat with my husband tonight and voiced my true desires and frustrations. Why couldn’t we have had a family the easy way? Why did the Lord have to call us to foster? Why are we head over heels in love with one of our foster children and struggle to bond with the other? Why do we feel like we’re losing the battle almost weekly? I needed to hear this. I so badly needed to be reminded that there is a beautiful purpose for this and that we are here for the Utmost Highest. Thank you, thank you, thank you for reminding me that preserving is so incredibly important.

    • Bailey, you are so so welcome. I am overjoyed to hear that this hit home. Keep fighting this good fight even when you are down in the count and feel totally defeated. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel….it’s just around a slight bend.

  • Luck

    There have been so many times that my husband and I have wanted to give up on being foster parents. The days are long and the respect is lacking from all sides. My husband, our daughter and I have all sacrificed many things for the children we have cared for and rarely find the respect we feel we deserve. Then, I think who will it hurt if we quit? The people who have hurt us? No. It will hurt the children and grieve God. Where will the kids go that need a home if people do not step up? Is it easy and always fun? No, but we can make a difference in the adventure!

    • This is such a great viewpoint. There are so many what-ifs but also a lot of reasons why you need to keep going! Thanks for sharing this.

  • ivins5

    Just what I needed to read this morning! I cried myself to sleep last night. 3 weeks ago a young man left our house that I just could not connect with. No matter how hard I tried I just could not even like him. He tried my patience about every minute of every day. I was beyond ready to throw in the towel and then dealt with the guilt of being glad when he left. When we received a late night call to take 2 girls just a few days ago I almost didn’t answer the phone. But I’ve been praying that God would bring us a child who would refresh our hearts and make us want to continue serving in this capacity. That’s why I cried last night! Not out of frustration but because we were only able to serve these girls for just under 48 hours. We will miss them so much! I pray that our brief time with them meant as much to them as it did to us. God knew just what this momma’s heart needed: someone who needed her, rather than someone who rejected her. Maybe I’ll be a little less hesitant to take the next call!

  • Shelly Webb

    God and His perfect timing… I woke up to this post at the top of my time line. After a very difficult, discouraging week I needed to read this! We are fostering to adopt an 11yr old and in the short 9 weeks he has been with us, we have experienced every kind of behavior issue possible! The defiance and lying is my biggest issue with him. I love him but I am struggling with liking him and trying not to push him away since he is incapable of being truthful right now! I am constantly reminded the life he had before us and that he has had no raisin’ but I don’t know how to keep going right now without hating who he is? If that makes sense. My husband prayed with him last night and tried to encourage him to embrace the security he has here in our home but I don’t even know if he is grasping that fact and probably won’t for a while based on his past! I’m thankful for reading this and the encouragement received from it. #keeponkeepingon

  • Gillian

    My husband and I are first-time foster parents and first-time parents. We’ve had a 6 YO girl with us for almost 7 months. As the placement goes on, her attachment to us grows, but so does her rage and tantrums. We’re so unprepared for this and are talking about walking away – we’re constantly stressed and miss our peaceful home. We have no support – there’s no respite care and no support groups, and we don’t have other foster parents to discuss it with. My husband is pretty stressed and probably depressed. We saw a therapist today. I was hoping he’d give us some coping skills, but he seemed to be guiding us to the decision not to adopt. We hate to be the next people that fail her, but aren’t sure how we can find the strength to go forward.

    • Yuri Akseli

      I’m so sorry. And I have no advice. We are hanging on a straw of hope as well. I wish you a better future. Whatever it may be, you have earned it.

  • Yuri Akseli

    We have a constant conflict with the birth parents, who have accused us for all kinds of things. None of them have any grounds, on the contrary, it feels like every time we succeed with the kids and make some progress, it’s misinterpreted as bullying the kids or parents. The case worker is total chicken shit, because the parents have a lawyer. I guess the organization doesn’t really support the sw either. But the worst is biofather who keeps threatening me with violence. I have made a court case against him, but it seems the sw takes this as being difficult fosterparent. Although she has been present during the threats of the dad to beat me up. I’m not sure what is gonna happen, as now the cade worker is planning to reunite the family to a family rehab center. My wife keeps crying this every day whenever the kids are not present. I feel, everything at once. And it’s – killing me.