Suburban Foster Dad

It's hard not to look at the entire fostering process and only see the
loss. In the foster journey loss is everywhere you look. After all,
what is more profound than the loss of your parents. But beyond that,
the children that we welcome into our house have lost so much more.
They've lost their friends, schools, churches, toys, clothes, and
familiar surroundings. Perhaps the greatest loss is that which isn't
physical. Many of the children coming to our home have lost their
sense of security, trust in adults that are supposed to protect them,
and sometimes they have lost their belief that they are of worth.

This next part will sound selfish, and forgive me for letting you in
on the secret that foster parents aren't the most selfless people on
the planet. The truth is, we are often just as selfish as everyone
else. But, we have a lot of our own loss as well. I've never been a
fan of comparing loss, no matter how much you've experienced loss,
someone else has experienced more. It's a dangerous trap to fall into
to ignore your own loss because the kids in your house have
experienced more. How can we not see our own loss in this process when
a lot of foster parent's decision to foster came from loss? For us it
was three miscarriages. Three times of raised hopes, rejoicing with
friends, excited planning, all ending in loss.

As foster parents there are things we all give up. Besides the obvious
things like time and emotional energy we also give up our privacy. The
amount of people going in and out of our home is staggering. At any
given moment people can come into our house and look through our
things. They look into our finances, our eating habits, and our family
and friends that might be at the house often. Our lives are now shared
with social workers, therapists, workers from the state, CASA
volunteers, and anyone else who has an invested interest in our boys.

I'll never forget our first placement. I opened my front door and
stared at two little boys each with a plastic Walmart bag holding a
stuffed animal, a pair of socks, and a single shirt. I looked into
their eyes and saw all of their loss, and that night I couldn't help
thinking of all of mine. After all, my loss is the reason that I
agreed to let all of this loss into my house. So as foster parents,
how do we look past that loss? How do we bring something of worth to
these kids' lives and to ours? Is fostering one big sad, irredeemable
journey for those who are defined by their loss?

I remember the moment that I changed my attitude towards loss. I was
listening to our youngest foster kiddo wonder out loud if he would
ever see his parents again. I did what any stereotypical tough guy
would do. I poured myself a glass of wine(to the brim) went into the
bathroom, turned on the shower so they couldn't hear me, and sat on
the bathroom floor and cried. I cried for their loss, I cried for our
loss, and I prayed asking God if this was what this journey was
supposed to be like. In my mind I kept hearing one word. Grace.

Gaining doesn't heal loss. Grace does. Grace says "yes loss hurts, but
God has a purpose for this". Grace doesn't eliminate loss, it
validates it. If it wasn't for our loss we wouldn't have the
opportunity to share our love with the kids that come through our
house. Loss doesn't define us, or them, but it does shape us. Both
loss and grace will meet these kids during the time they are in our
house. It's up to us to let our lives be defined by grace, and pray
that theirs are as well. The Bible consistently talks about the value
of grace through embracing loss.

2 Corinthians 12:8-9: Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it
away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for
my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the
more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on

God won't snap His fingers and change these kids' pasts, or ours. But
His grace is enough for us. For all of us.

So foster dad, it's ok to be heartbroken by the loss of the kids
entering your house and by your own loss. It's ok to feel the weight
of those things and cry. It's even ok to sit on the bathroom floor and
drink a big glass of wine. But after you're done doing all of that,
don't stay on that floor. Get off of your ass and go to the kids that
God has entrusted you to for an unknown amount of time. Hug them
tight, let them know that you're thankful to be where you are, no
matter how much loss brought you there. Look past the loss and see
beyond it to the beautiful thing that is grace.