When you find people who not only tolerate your quirks but celebrate them with glad cries of “Me, too!” be sure to cherish them. Because those weirdos are your tribe.
–Sweatpants & Coffee
When I entered the world of foster care in 2011 Jason and I knew not one single foster parent. I had made online contact with a fellow blogger who held my hand through the initial steps of researching and starting our classes. That relationship meant so much. When we got our first placement, Krysta was the first non-family member I emailed in the middle of the night when I finally caught my breath. I had a lot of new feelings swarming around in my head as I became a mom for the first time in an instant and a strange child was asleep in a crib nearby—she instantly understood it all.
Foster parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Not only is it suddenly adding members to our family, it’s the drama of complicated relationships with biological family members. It’s navigating a confusing, and in many ways broken, government program. It’s a steady flow of paperwork, home visits, team meetings, training classes, and hearings. And most importantly, it’s the precious little ones who come with emotional baggage and hard stories but are so easy to love.
Through our first two placements in our first two years of foster parenting, I carried on without a support group. We have a wonderful community of family and friends near and far who have embraced us through our journey—they’re invaluable to us. But I still didn’t really know any other foster moms—really know.
Enter Instagram #fostercare.
After a break from the foster care madness while we finalized our daughter Alianna’s adoption and moved into a new home, I started preparing to reenter the world of foster parenting. At that point I was already an Instagram addict. I frequently scanned the hashtags related to foster care and adoption and would happily stumble upon other foster/adoptive moms that were a lot like me. In a matter of months I started connecting frequently with the same group of 20-50 foster moms through Instagram photo sharing. We bonded over stressful home visits, photos of the backs of our kids heads (most of us can’t share names and faces of our foster kids online), prayer requests on big court days, and all the usual day-to-day mom stuff. I even realized one of them lived right here in Nashville with me and we met up briefly at a craft show. In August 2013, when our third placement was reunified with his mom for a 90-day trial period, we decided to take a three-month break from foster parenting. I spent the month of October preparing our home and my heart to get back in the game. As I was taking a restful break, I continued to see posts from my fellow foster mamas who were in the trenches. I felt compelled to spend time praying for each of them and their little ones daily. Although I’m forever grateful for those IG hashtags that led us all to each other in the first place, I realized that connecting through Facebook would give us a greater platform to get to know each other.
Now we officially have a foster mom support group. It’s small and close-knit. It’s small so that it stays close-knit. It didn’t take long to realize that if the group grew too large it became too difficult to keep up. Our interactions have evolved from Instagram to Facebook to face-to-face meet-ups, phone calls, Google hangouts and texting. I’ve got 20-some foster mom friends who know me well and have my back through every battle I face, even the ones that have nothing to do with foster parenthood. This is not an invitation to join my support group but rather a plea to find like-minded people with whom you can connect daily on a deep and personal level. Maybe it’ll be through a social media hashtag or maybe a local support group, but they’re out there—your people—your tribe of weirdos.