A funny thing happens when I’m around people who encourage me. I get better. I do bigger things and I do them well. I am able to really believe that I am capable of more. And, not surprisingly, when I’m around people who don’t believe I can do something, I get overwhelmed, I fail, I second guess myself, I quit early.
One of the biggest challenges I have seen foster parents face is finding a real support system. Not just people who tell you you’re doing a nice thing in passing, but people who continue to say, “you are doing a hard thing, and you’re going to make it!” and people who are willing to say, “I’m bringing you dinner and watching your kids while you take a nap.” I’ve heard many stories in our foster parent training classes of men and women who say, “it felt like no one cared that it was hard for us. We felt so alone.” It doesn’t have to be this way.
You’ll very likely encounter people along your journey that are negative. We’ve been really blessed to mostly be surrounded by people who are on board our crazy train and choose to build up instead of tear down, but we’ll still get occasional negativity. Maybe they just don’t get it. Maybe they believe foster care is really weird, and they think you’re not cut out for those weird things. Maybe the idea of suddenly adding one or two or three kids into your life in the time it takes for you to answer a phone call seems terrifying to them, and they don’t understand that it’s what you have been called to. But do you know who does believe you are capable? God. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Finding people who support you, speak life and truth into you, and encourage you as a brother or sister in the Christ who allows us and enables us to do the hardest things, is monumental. It might be hard. It might not be the people you think it’s going to be. But press in. Really search for it. Ask leadership at your church if they know any other foster parents who would be willing to connect. Ask your caseworker if there are any families or other foster mamas she knows that might be a good fit with your personality. I have a few local foster mama friends and they are key to my sanity some days. Search online: #fostercare, #fosterfamily, #fostermom—plug in wherever you can. You will run dry quickly without encouragement. You were created to do this. You were made in His image to be a light-bringing, joyful, able, hard worker. Find the people who see that in you. You’re going to need it to do the hard things.