Why Fostering Isn’t For Me
By Krystle K
Many of you have been following our journey towards becoming foster parents over the last year. We announced last Fall that we had begun the application process to get licensed. I shared how tedious the process was at times and how much we had to complete in order to get licensed (see the list here). But we forged onward with our goal in sight. On May 30, 2014 we received an email that we had been approved and passed our home visit! 9 months after we made the decision to become foster parents, a newborn was placed in our home. I found the timing incredible for two reasons; firstly: little did we know, a baby was growing the whole time we were working towards our license and within weeks of being born she would enter our home; secondly: right around this time we also realized we were expecting our 3rd baby (if you haven’t seen it, check out our pregnancy announcement video).
We made the decision to be respite parents, which is short term and emergency placement care. We either take a baby who has just been removed from the home while the agency works out where the best placement for him or her is, or we are stand-ins for current foster parents who either need a break or need to leave town.
When our first baby (Baby Z) arrived in June, it felt like Christmas! I was so giddy, after thinking about this moment for 9 months, it almost felt like my own child was about to walk through the door. She arrived and we all just cooed over what a beautiful tiny little thing she was. Her amazing foster mom (who was pregnant also and had 5 foster children!!!!!) was headed out of state and I could tell she was beyond attached to this little bundle. She could barely let her go and was definitely teary over leaving her. I assured her that her baby was in good hands and I would keep in touch. I couldn’t wait to shower her in love, and my daughters were just instantly smitten with her. To this day, my youngest names all her dolls after her and even wanted to name my son after her.
Fast-forward to 3am that night when reality hit…Sweet Baby Z had been up every 2 hours, would take forever to drink her bottle and then needed more time to settle back down to sleep. I remember very distinctly and shamefully thinking:
This is not for me…..
Even though my kids still don’t sleep through the night, I at least get pretty good stretches in-between, and when mine were that little I was bed-sharing and breastfeeding (which means you hardly have to wake up to feed). Having to get up and make bottles and stay awake was a whole new ball game for me. I remember praying for God to give me the grace I needed to do this every night for the next x amount of nights. The dread that overcame me was a surprise. This isn’t going to be as easy and fun as I thought…
In the morning I called a sweet friend of mine, AnnMarie (my resident foster expert) for an honest chat.
“I thought it would feel different… like I was stepping into a calling… fulfilling my destiny (very Star Wars like)… but instead I just feel like a babysitter… is this normal?!”
I shared with her that I felt like a complete foster failure. She explained to me that every baby is different, every experience is different and respite can be hard as you know that the baby isn’t staying long so it’s very common to not get attached. This was a completely normal coping mechanism for short-term care givers. She told me she would be praying for me and left me feeling slightly relived (even though I was still not looking forward to the all-nighter that I knew was coming my way.)
At exactly 3am the following night I was up feeding Baby Z and a wave of love for her came over me. It brought tears to my eyes. The grace I had so badly needed the prior night had arrived. From that moment on she was like my own. I even called AnnMarie and asked her to stop praying at one point (haha). I cried for days after she left and was astonished how much I had grown to love her in our short time together.
I learned: Fostering isn’t for me or about me.
It is about having an open door to wounded children even when it is tiring, inconvenient and ultimately painful. Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful type of pain. The type that changes you for the good. I say that each time the babies go, they take a little piece of your heart with them – but I’m finding two things:
1. It’s a beautiful gift to give them your heart. A gift that is unmatched and unending.
2. They enlarge your heart so much that you didn’t need that little piece in the end anyway.
Over the summer we had 3 placements: A 1-year-old boy and two infant girls. Every child brought something unique and special into our home. My own children had me in tears many times because of their love and selflessness. I can’t imagine a better childhood for them, seeing our home as a place for love and healing. They prayed for the biological parents, shared their mommy and daddy, and never once complained.
The girls taking Baby K for a walk
Baby E taking a nap on me
To read AnnMarie’s story of fostering and adopting 3 children, click HERE
If you would like more information about becoming a foster parent, check out Florida Baptist Children’s Home