May is National Foster Care Month and tears are welling in my eyes as I think of the many, many children in the foster care system. I am eternally grateful for the dear women (and men!) I know who daily sacrifice themselves for their foster babies. Over and over I hear there is nothing as hard or rewarding as fostering.
In New Mexico, there are over 10,500 children who are victims of abuse and neglect. This is a staggering number. These are real kids with real needs. This can’t be someone else’s problem; this is our problem.
Every child in foster care has experienced some type of trauma. Since trauma changes your brain, a foster parent must be educated and understand that you can’t parent these kids the same as you would a bio kid.
However, this trauma and the accompanying behaviors don’t negate the personhood of each of these precious kids. Each of these kids are unique. They’re not a number or a problem. They are people.
And, no matter what these kids in foster care have been through, and no matter what they’re struggling with, each of them deserve unconditional love. Fostering is showing a child what sacrificial, unconditional love is.
Although foster kids come and go, they need a foster parent’s unconditional love. There’s no way a foster mom can guard her heart from pain and give this kind of love–if you don’t grieve when the child is gone, you haven’t given them what they need. A foster mom must love her foster kids just like her bio kids. They must feel loved and secure to bond at an early age so that they can have a normal adult life.
Although a foster family may not look like a traditional biological family, that doesn’t make them less of a family. Being family means living shoulder to shoulder with each other and having shared experiences. After foster kids go back to their birth parents, many foster parents still consider them their kids. Think of the beautifully large and diverse family a fostering family can have!
No one will tell you fostering is easy. It’s hard: hard on the foster parents, hard on the core family, hard on the foster kids. If you’re considering foster care, make sure you have help–you’ll need it! It’s a broken system filled with broken people. But these children are people. People who deserve dignity and need us to love them.
Also, fostering is rewarding. Don’t lose sight of the beauty amidst the hard. You will fall in love with your foster kids. It is amazing to connect with and love on children who desperately need it. In blessing others, you will be blessed.
If you’re interested in helping foster children in New Mexico, partner with us in a supply drive. Get more details here!
Many, many thanks to my foster-mommy friends who shared your heart and experiences with me. I could never have written this without your input.
New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department FY2017 Annual Report & Strategic Plan. https://cyfd.org/docs/fy17_annual_report_final.pdf (accessed 5/1/17)