5 Conversations to FULLY Think Through Before Having Them with a Foster Parent

  1. When I first tell you I’m going to become a foster parent…

What to skip: “Aren’t you worried? Those kids can be so tough. Let me tell you a story about a book I read (or worse… a movie I saw) about the foster care system and how I couldn’t stop crying about it for days.”

Here’s the thing: Nobody becomes a foster parent by accident. We apply, take classes, and go through licensure. Every step of the way, we have to confront massive questions about ourselves and our lives.. sometimes in 20-page handwritten applications. Even if we didn’t begin with that level of consideration, the system forces us to take that time to think about our choices.

What to say: “I’d love to know more about what led you to become a foster parent.”

This shows respect for all the work and thought I’ve put into this. If you listen to my story and then have follow-up questions? Great. But chances are, I’m going to answer a lot of your questions before you ask them. Like, yes, I do plan to invest in some indestructible furniture.

  1. If you’re thinking about the challenges of being a foster parent…

What to skip: “I could never do what you’re doing. It’d be too hard for me.”

This is like responding to someone’s “I’m pregnant!” announcement with, “Oh, but I’ve heard labor is SO PAINFUL.”

Honestly? We’ve all chosen to do painful things in life. So, maybe you haven’t chosen to be a foster parent. But you’ve probably risked vulnerability for love. You’ve moved away from friends and family. You’ve played a sport you loved even though you now have a knee surgeon on speed dial. People do painful things all the time. Think of how you got through the last painful experience you had. Think of what your loved one said while they held your hand and fixed you a glass of wine on top of a pile of ice cream.

And if you can’t stomach my rants about “The System,” or learning a new name every so often, or watching me go through the heartbreak of transition, I get it. It can be a lot. We can go our separate ways. Right now, I need friends who are ready to offer support.

What to say: “It sounds like there are going to be some rough times, but you can count on me. I might not know what to say, but I’m here for you. Do you think you’ll want wine or ice cream when your heart is broken?”

Both, please. I want both.

  1. When you’re thinking about how foster parenting might be different from other types of parenting…

What to skip: “I just think you’re missing out on the true experiences of parenthood, like pregnancy and labor and getting to name your child…”

If you stop to think about it, what you’re essentially saying is, “You will never be a real parent. Not fully.” And that’s a rejection of everything I’m working toward. I get it. The rhyme never said, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a lifelong entanglement with the child welfare system and a series of placements that will set your heart on a path of growing and breaking forever.”

Unless we grew up in the foster care system, none of us were taught how to do this. But I’m taking a deep breath and going for it.

What to say: “What parts of parenthood are you looking forward to?”

There are lots of experiences I’m going to get to have as a parent — and I’m excited! Ask me about them.

  1. If you think I’m doing the world a favor…

What to skip: “You’re doing such a great thing, saving those poor kids.”

There is nothing that gets under my skin faster than the savior narrative of foster care. There are no heroes and there are no villains — only the incredibly snarly, messy, complex, and beautiful families and people that make up this system. And I include myself in that system, by the way. I am snarly, messy, complex, and beautiful.

I am not saving anybody. I’m providing a safe and loving home for a child for as long as that child is with me. I’m going to school meetings and soccer practice and kissing bruised knees and tucking babies into bed each night. None of this is heroic — unless it is heroic when you do it, too.

Sure, kids who’ve been through significant trauma have a lot of healing to do. But giving them a safe place to do the work is not an act of heroism. It’s an act of humanity. If I get a medal for it, than so should you. And also your kid’s teacher. Possibly their doctor, too. And that really great babysitter.

Kids come into my house whole, not broken. They come with trauma and baggage and very few belongings. But they also come with wholly formed personalities, senses of humor, survival skills, smarts, and playfulness. There is nothing to fix, only to heal and continue to grow and thrive.

What to say: “Tell me about the kids you’ve cared for.”

When you say this, I see that you recognize my kids as individuals, as whole, sparkly, fabulous people.

And if you’re an experienced parent, I may need your advice, especially if I’m dealing with a situation I’ve never encountered before, like advocating for my kids in school or choosing a soccer organization. Ask about how they make me laugh, how they push my buttons — and I’ll ask you right back.

Because we’re there with other parents. Our kids may change, and we may have a lot more paperwork to fill out, but we are just as up to our elbows in mud, poop, grinning, anticipation, heartbreak, and exhaustion. And like other parents, we wouldn’t trade it for anything.

And last but certainly not least…

  1. If you’re stuck on thinking about when the kids go home…

What to skip: “I can never be a foster parent. I’d get too attached.”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard this. In fact, I hear it almost every single time me being a foster parent comes up. So, I want to clarify a few things…

There’s often an inclination, when a person enters the foster care journey, to not allow themselves to get attached to the children they’re caring for. They call it a safeguard for when they have to say goodbye. But, this defies the human wiring we have to love, and really doesn’t cut it. Here’s why…

First…I am not some woman with the super power to love and attach only to the extent that it won’t hurt me. That super power doesn’t exist. I loved my foster babies who were in my home before now, I love the ones who are currently in there and I’ll love the ones who are still to come as though they are mine. I fight the inclination to post a cute photo of the girls on Facebook every day. I am proud of every single milestone. Their eyes melt me, and their screams can dissolve me to tears. I love to hold them and play with them and get those super cute laughs. Their snuggles are the best. You could even say I’m attached. And it will hurt to say good-bye. So if you are the kind of person that would get “too attached,” congratulations. You’d be a great fit as a foster parent. So maybe we aren’t perfect, but we are loving, and we’re available. Bio is of course first choice. But when a bio family can’t provide that bonding in a safe and loving atmosphere, enter foster families.


We step in — and we get attached. At least, as much as we can. We stand in the kids’ corner, advocate for their needs, love them as if we gave birth to them, dream, and pray, and hope for them with all our might. And then one day, we have to say good-bye.


We have to let go and hope that all of our love and sleepless nights and fears and hopes and prayers and meetings and sensory tools and visits and preparations were enough.We hope that we bonded and they bonded to us. We hope that we gave them the gift of the ability to trust others. To believe in their own worth. To know they are loved. To know that there is something to love and relationships outside of abuse and neglect.


In short, getting too attached is one of the best gifts we could give these kids. Even if it hurts to say good-bye.


And if I might add one more thing . . .


If being a foster parent sounds like it’s just setting yourself up for hurt … I want to challenge you. These children did not choose to be foster children. Their lives are completely up in the air, and are dependent on total strangers’ decisions. When you guard your heart so carefully that there is no room for them in it … They do not disappear. When you dismiss their plight with a wave of your hand and a quick excuse, they are still without a home.
Foster families who are already stretched thin take in one more kid because no one else will. Social workers have the kids sleep on sofas in their offices until they can find a home, somewhere. Siblings are broken apart and only get to see each other every once in awhile.


So maybe ask yourself . . . What if I could? What if I could get attached, love a child, and say good-bye? What if I could give a kid love and stability because that’s what our home is made of? What if there is a child out there who is worth the risk of getting my heart hurt? I can promise you one thing … There is. There have been four for me.

Foster Momma Monday: Meet April!

received_10212480919072126_resizedMy name is April, my husband Daniel and I have been married for going on 10 years in April and we are the Smith family from Bremen, Georgia. We met in high school and and dated for 6 months and then Daniel was leaving for college soon so we parted ways but stayed in contact and hung out as friends for the next 8 years until we were both single, then we got back together and were married 13 months later. We had our first child, our daughter in 2009 and our son in 2012. Before having any biological children, we always knew that we we open for adoption and in 2015 we decided to pursue a private adoption. Long story short, the birth mother to the child decided to parent 30 weeks into her pregnancy. Our hearts were already committed and as hurt as we were she and I remained in contact where I have supported her and encouraged her along the way. We chose to foster because we have a heart for children – especially the ones who  need a safe and loving family. We have the resources, and our 2 biological children were on received_10212480918992124_resizedboard so we figured, “what’s holding us back?” So in 2016, we opened our home to foster care but as most people typically are in the beginning, we were very hesitant to dive in head first. We did respite a couple of times over the course of the 1st year and we were even called several times for placements and agreed but the placement would never pan out with the agency we were with then. In January of 2017 we decided to transfer to another agency and then in March of 2017 we received a 1 month old baby girl. Fast forward, we have had our current foster daughter for a little over a year and we are open to adopt  her if a TPR (termination of parental rights) happens.
What, to you, is the most difficult challenge you are faced with when fostering?
Dealing with multiple people in and out of our home is not always fun. DFCS doesn’t do anything fast, yet expect you to be Johnny on the spot with their requests.
 What’s the most rewarding part about this process to you?
The rewarding part is seeing how far this precious child has come from placement to now physically and emotionally is so worth the emotional roll coaster of fostering.
What’s something that you wish people understood about ‘being a foster family?’
I wish more people were supportive of foster families. Yes, we did choose to foster,  however, it isn’t easy. It seems that many are very judgmental and I feel that only other foster parents truly understand.

25 Things to do the Year YOU Turn 25

Some people are afraid of getting older. I think it’s because of the unknown….the unknown of not knowing what you won’t know, until you’re able to reflect in hindsight.
On Friday, I turned 25. This year I am choose to not look backwards, but instead to set intentions for moving forwards. I am forever grateful for the years leading to today – but more than that I’m grateful for today. Had I known the blessings and the heartaches that would come along the way, I may have been tempted to alter my course. But altering my course would have meant that I would not be where I am today. It is the only path I have ever known, and it is mine….for better or for worse, and I am grateful for things I didn’t know “back then.”
Today I say goodbye to the first half of my 20’s with grace.
  1. Pay $25 of the grocery tab for the lady behind you at the grocery store.
  2. Take a 25 minute bubble bath once a week.
  3. Crochet a full sized blanket.
  4. Buy a box of birthday cards and make an effort to mail them to friends and family on their birthdays.
  5. Visit a sea turtle hatchery.
  6. Visit a new winery you’ve never been to.
  7. Have an “UNPLUGGED WEEKEND” with no electronic devices used in your household.
  8. Take a pottery class – a full two step class where you mold the project and then paint it.
  9. Write 25 handwritten notes and give them to people you care about just to let them know you’re thinking of them.
  10. Refinish 25 pieces of furniture.
  11. Complete the 30 day NO SUGAR challenge.
  12. Grow a garden.
  13. Pay for a strangers meal behind you in the to go line once a month.
  14. Write a letter to yourself to open on your 30th birthday.
  15. Complete the “10 Books Everyone Should Read Before 30” Bucket List. (See Below)
  16. Give out 25 compliments to 25 different strangers.
  17. Find 25 new recipes to try this year – make a section for Sip Wine, Share Thoughts to post said recipes! 
  18. Make a list of 25 things that you’re thankful for and keep it somewhere like your purse or your car for “rough days.”
  19. Get back into a size 8 jean… and stay there.
  20. Do something that absolutely scares you and write a journal post about it.
  21. Complete the 30 day vegetarian challenge.
  22. Establish the fundamentals of learning how to bake and exercise the discipline to be able to do it. (I know quite a few people who just giggled.)
  23. Complete the ‘2018 Foster Momma Bucket List.’
  24. Visit 25 New Places – restaurants, towns, etc.
  25. Make a bucket list of 26 different things to do in Year 26. 🙂

1. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

This suggestion comes from Shane Parrish, the entrepreneur behind the always fascinating Farnam Street blog. In it, “psychologist Robert Cialdini introduces the universal principles of influence: reciprocation, scarcity, authority, commitment, liking, and consensus,” he explains, adding: “Why do you need to learn these? To paraphrase Publius Syrus, ‘He can best avoid a snare who knows how to set one.'”

2. Adulthood Is a Myth by Sarah Andersen

One of the hardest lessons to learn in your 20s is that there is no promised land of adulthood–everyone, no matter how polished or in control they seem, is just making it up as they go along. Sarah Andersen’s collection of comics can help you grasp this difficult but essential truth, the librarians of New York Public Library suggest in their list of best books to get through in your 20s. (Hat tip to Business Insider.)

“It’s a nice idea, that entering your 20s means somehow graduating into adulthood. But as every young-at-heart baby boomer or senior will tell you, adulthood never really arrives. At some point you just start doing ‘adult’ things,” comments BI’s Chris Weller. This book illustrates that truth.

3. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Obliviousness is acceptable when you’re an adolescent, but it’s dangerous when you’re old enough to undertake the responsibilities of voter, citizen, and boss. According to the NYPL librarians, this celebrated National Book Award winner will help you grapple with the realities of racism in America and, if this is a topic you were able to avoid when you were younger, push you to empathize with fellow Americans with very different experiences.

4. Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Looking for more in this vein? Try Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward. It’s the author’s “intimate and wrenching account of four young black men she loved and lost,” writes author Jennifer Weiner, recommending it to 20-somethings.

5. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Speaking of empathy, if you’re looking to expand yours even further, several recommenders suggest this massive but highly readable novel (I barely put it down once I started it) about four friends making their way in New York City after graduating college.

It sounds like an innocent-enough premise, but the reality lurking behind the familiar surface is devastating. “The author picks away at our ability to understand grief and depression, challenging the reader to be more and more empathetic. And your 20s is a better time than any to hone the oft-overlooked trait of empathy,” writes the Huffington Post’s Katherine Brooks. (Warning: This is polite way of saying it’ll leave you feeling completely emotionally crushed.)

6. Confessions of a Terrible Husband: Lessons Learned From a Lumpy Couch by Nick Pavlidis

While this pick isn’t applicable to everyone (despite the title of this post, sorry), if you’re ready to put the relationship drama of your 20s behind you and finally figure out how to build a…gulp…actually functioning adult partnership, Lifehack’s Mike Bryan suggests this book. “Pavlidis takes us through his journey from being a self-absorbed jerk to a loving husband,” he says. Hopefully, you can learn from his mistakes.

7. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

Bryan’s list is heavy on self-help books about practical problems (not being broke, finding the motivation to do what you know you need to) that crop up when it’s time to get serious about adulthood. Check it out if that’s your main interest, but here’s one useful-sounding pick that addresses a common issue–the struggle to say no.

“Whether you are looking for help emotionally, physically, or mentally, Boundaries is the book you want to read,” he says. The authors “give you the blueprint for setting clear boundaries in any facet of your life.”

8. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Speaking of basic but essential life skills, the NYPL librarians say most of what you need to know you’ll find packed into this book by a former advice columnist. Don’t expect etiquette trivia like which fork to use for which course at dinner, however.

The librarians call it “the best, most compassionate advice about being a fully realized, empathic person in the world.” While BI’s Weller says the book “is a reminder that life is fraught with uncertainty, and that what we call ‘quarter-life crises’ might just be the first in a series of opportunities to ask for help.” A ton of other recommenders included this title in their lists too.

9. Off the Road by Carolyn Cassady

Lots of books-to-read-when-you’re-young lists include Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. I understand why–it’s a great, seductive celebration of convention-smashing freedom that I adored as a teenager. But if you’re approaching 30, I suggest you also pick up Off the Road, the memoir of Carolyn Cassady, the real-life wife of On the Road’s hero, Neal Cassady (surprise! He was married). A useful counterpoint, it describes the lies, domestic pain, and mental breakdown that failed to make it into Kerouac’s counter-culture classic.

It will also prod romantic young people to think realistically about how glamorous-seeming lifestyles are presented for outside consumption (whether in Beat novels or on social media), and to consider the difficult tradeoffs that might be hidden behind the appealing exterior. (John Updike’s Rabbit novels also provide a more nuanced picture of what it can actually cost you to tear free of domestic burdens and stodgy conventions.)

10. Letters From a Stoic by Seneca

In search of some timeless wisdom to ease you into your fourth decade? Farnam Street’s Parrish suggests you look to the past, recommending philosophical classic Letters From a Stoic. “I came to Seneca a few years after I turned 30,” he relates. “His letters deal with everything we deal with today: success, failure, wealth, poverty, grief. His philosophy is practical. Not only will reading this book help equip you for what comes in life but it’ll help you communicate with others.”

Foster Momma Monday: Meet Rebecca!



I am Rebecca, grew up as what they call an Army brat and landed in the sweet southern state of Louisiana, where both of my parents grew up. I am 35 years old and married to my amazing husband, Jonathan (who I have been married to since April of 2014) and mother to a very beautiful and talented teenager, Alayna, and our energetic, wild hearted foster daughter, age 6. We were recently a household of five but the Lord spoke and the storm came rolling in last week!  The women are now overtaking the household as our foster son, age two, left to fulfill the plan God set out for him.We have not adopted as of yet – but are open and waiting for the opportunity to eventually do so.


Why did you choose to foster? Are you an adoptive home or foster only?

This is a tricky question, sometimes I wonder if we even chose to do this or if we just became open and obedient to the plan that God was laying out for us all along! I have always loved children and thankfully the Lord sent me a ready-made Father in my husband. He took the role of step father beyond anything my daughter and I would have imagined for ourselves, but always hoped we would find.! We were married in 2014 and I guess as most couples do, we expected to conceive our first child within a few months but as time passed by, our hearts longed more and more for children to share together, and it just wasn’t happening, no matter how many tears were cried, or prayers we prayed!

We decided to embark on a spiritually journey after the first year had passed, a mission trip to Turrialba, Costa Rica. During that amazing week in Costa Rica, we visited an orphanage and were truly taken in by what we experienced. The children were beautiful with smiles that could literally warm the darkest of hearts, we stayed for hours, playing and laughing with them . No matter what they experienced before or after we arrived, those children were smiling because we were giving them love and affection!

It was after failed fertility procedures, early pregnancy losses, and that trip,  that we came to realize, God gave us a beautiful home and an abundant amount of love in our hearts to help his children. So in September of 2016 we accepted our first placement, a sibling set ages 10 months and 4 , and we have been loving on them ever since.


What, to you, is the most difficult challenge you are faced with when fostering?

I think as parents you want to always do what’s best for your children, and when you have children that really aren’t acclimated to a stable environment, behaviors can be extremely difficult. Every child is different, they need their own routine and their own type of attention and nurturing.  This can be a difficult part of this ministry, dividing your love, energy and protection to the right child at the right time, in the right way. The other difficult part of this journey, is trying to understand that nothing is definite. The court, the state, the worker, the biological family, the therapists, anything can happen at any given time. We have witnessed this heartbreak numerous times over the last seventeen months, but we will still be here for the next child, because our suffering is nothing compared to theirs. Last but not least, when a placement you love leaves, your heart will break into a tiny million pieces! Open and guard your hearts, this is a roller coaster ride of emotions!


What’s the most rewarding part about this process to you?

We have been so blessed to be loved by these beautiful children, watching them walk, talk, spell, play sports and to pray. To be able to love someone else’s child as your own is truly a miracle! The reward is knowing that the seed was planted, and they will grow into beautiful, strong and faithful children and that they have helped us grow, to better help the next children that come into our hearts.

I find that this journey has truly changed who we are as parents and as servants to Gods will. Not just us, but our entire extended family has been shaken. We have become stronger, more patient, understanding, open hearted and more willing to sacrifice for them to grow and feel protected. I guess at the end of the day, every good and every hard day was all part of the reward.



What’s something that you wish people understood about ‘being a foster family?’

That these are OUR children. No matter the amount of time we have them, we love them, protect them, teach them and sacrifice for them. When they go back to their families, we pray for them, miss them and ugly cry because we can no longer hold them!  And that although we may have lots of children, and some that don’t look like us, we need your kindness! It takes a village to raise these children, we need your support!! We thank God for our village daily!!!

A Vow to Myself & a Reflection on the 1st Half of My 20’s

Each year on my birthday, I write a letter to my future self. I look back on all that I’ve experienced in that last year — good OR bad. I reflect. And then, I set goals for my year ahead. It’s like my New Years Resolutions 2.0

Sometimes, I look back on 19 and cringe about dancing like that at parties. Other times, I look at pictures of me at 16 and wonder what made me think that shirt was a good look. And as much as I try to shake it, I’ll never lose the image of myself at 23, breaking down in my bedroom on the day I filed for divorce after being married just a month shy of a year. But guess what I also learned? Every one has some sort of ‘quarter-life crisis.’

I can’t go back and change mistakes I’ve made in the past, but I can certainly use all I’ve learned to pave the way to a better future. But here and now, you are in control of absolutely everything that is going on in your life. Say that 10 times to yourself anytime you feel like shifting the blame for your decisions to someone else. If nothing else, I’ve certainly learned a lot in my first 25 years.

So, as a birthday present to myself, I’ve decided to exchange a few vows — not with anyone other than myself — as a promise to hold myself in higher regard moving forward.

I hope exchange with myself will not only resonate with me, but also with you. After all, we all deserve a healthy mindset toward our past and future. Also, who doesn’t deserve a little self-love on a milestone birthday?


Don’t chase love, but don’t chase vodka either. I want to remind you of this important stage of our life, that at 23 life came to a point of no directness but you have stayed strong and given all what you’ve got and guess what? You made it. I want you to remember every single struggle we faced, every tear we shed, every effort we made to overcome the disadvantages of our background and reach our goals so that at 25, or any year coming, you will be able to look back and see exactly how far we’ve gone, how tough we’ve had no choice but to become, and give ourselves the credits we — the kids that come from very little, damn well deserve.

It’s okay if there are people who you always feel a connection with, but you know there’s nothing you can really do about it. Realizing that timing is a bitch but it doesn’t have to ruin your life is a very necessary step in being stable.

And guess what? it’s okay if even after you’re over someone, you still miss them. You’re allowed to be nostalgic over memories and people who represented a happy and/or formative time period in your life. It’s not pathetic to miss things that at one time made you really, really happy.

But love is a beautiful and powerful thing so please don’t shut it out. Give it realistic expectations so that it can actually grow.

Never change my ideas, personality, priorities or standards for another person. Don’t be fake. Don’t play games. Don’t be afraid of love, and don’t be afraid of being alone. Don’t put off big decisions or changes. If you feel like you’re inconveniencing someone by simply existing, they really aren’t worth the effort. Life only moves faster as each year goes on. Act now and whatever is supposed to happen will follow. Do what you feel is right, not what you think is right. Live life with your heart on your sleeve and only worry about yourself while you still can. Be selfish.

You were raised to think that you should be married well before 30 — and that everything else you fill your life with adds up to failure if you remain single. That’s a giant bucket mess and lies. Be choosy. The happiness you’re chasing is actually suffusing your life right now. You will look back on this time very wistfully when you’ve got spit-up in your hair and a wife or husband who expects hot meals, a sparkling-clean house and you to resemble the cutie he married.


Just because you share blood with people doesn’t mean you have to give them the time of day. Especially if they are hell-bent on making you feel small, misunderstood and wrong. You’ve given them enough chances. Cut the cord.

Reconnect with your gut. I know you were raised to ignore it, and to first please others. Without a connection to your gut, you have no compass. Listen to it. If it squawks, pay attention. The more you listen to it, the more you’ll avoid messy/self-destructive detours and align with your own satisfying path.


Stop with the body shaming already. Being sure to drink enough water in a day won’t fix all your problems, but you will feel exponentially better. Being well hydrated is the new black. You’re never going to be 17-year-old skinny again. And considering how unhealthy you were, that’s probably a good thing. You are so beautiful right now. Your skin is amazing. Your metabolism is forgiving. You have epic amounts of energy and curiosity. Do not look to others to fuel up your self-esteem. You’re made of awesome. Own it and others will see it. Going 30 days with no alcohol is really, really hard. But hitting the reset button after going balls to the wall for a while is good for your physical and mental well-being. Your body will really, really thank you.. AND also investing in things like skincare and hair care and even something as simple as better sheets for your bed does not make you materialistic. You’re allowed to spend your money on whatever you like if it makes you happy and feel good about yourself.

There will be people in the world who will never understand depression. That doesn’t make them bad people. It’s not something that everyone can wrap their brains around and that’s okay.

You don’t have to stay on a date if there’s no connection. You don’t owe someone your time just because they bought you a beer. Say thank you for the drink, take your stuff, and go. No one “deserves” anything from anyone. Things are going to get much, much easier for you when you accept the fact that you are entitled to absolutely nothing from another person.

Don’t be afraid to start over. If you’re not happy where you’re at, with the life that you’re living and the people you’re surrounding yourself with – the only person who can change that is you. Hate your job? Start building your resume and taking the steps it takes to find another one. Over your relationship? Get out of it. Find the things in life that make you feel complete. NOBODY ELSE can do that for you. Give yourself the life you deserve… because as I mentioned earlier, nobody in this world “owes you anything” and the only person you owe anything to is yourself. 

Accumulate less things and more experiences. In my early twenties, I worked really hard and accumulated a lot of possessions; shoes, clothes, furniture etc. I fell into the trap of thinking that material things equated to happiness. I have since learned acquiring things breeds a constant desire for more and to what end? Lately I have been donating, selling and just getting rid of ‘things’. Having a lot of stuff adds to mental clutter and ties you down. No one lies on their deathbed ruminating over material possessions, rather they reflect on cherished moments with loved ones, a family trip, a cooking class with a spouse or watching their child’s first steps.

No response is a response. And it’s a powerful one. Remember that.

You don’t have to tell the world everything. You’re allowed to keep some things to yourself. It’s completely okay to save some stories, keep moments personal, and choose to not broadcast every single emotion you experience. But… if you wouldn’t admit to your best friend that you did it, you probably just shouldn’t do it.

You’re allowed to ignore people who only pay attention to you when they want something. You don’t have to be someone’s emotional dumpster and be there for them only when it’s convenient for them. You’re allowed to say when enough is enough and cut them off.

When it comes down to it, age is just a number. That’s all it is. It’s not a point in your life where you should have already accomplished X, Y, and Z. It’s just a number stating how many years you have physically existed on Earth. Some people are 25 and they seem more like they’re 35, some people are 45 and seem like they’re 25 – perception is everything.

Foster Care: It isn’t devastating, it’s just a tad annoying & inconvenient.

an-adventure-wrongly-considered-gilbert-k-chesterton-daily-quotes-sayings-picturesIt’s super important to me to give people a realistic look at what foster parenting is like from my perspective. I don’t want anyone getting into this with the idea that it will be easy or smooth. I don’t ever want to hear the phrase, “oh, but she just made it look so easy.” Doing the right thing isn’t always as rewarding as we wish it would be. But I’m starting to think maybe I’m preparing people for the wrong thing. As I talk with people about their concerns with foster care I mostly hear questions about the dramatic moments. People hesitate to jump in because they are focusing on the potential for extreme grief. They are worried a child would be with them for years without permanency, or would be taken quickly without much notice, or would come with such a sad history that it would be difficult for them to ever recover. These are all possible realities in the foster care world, but I want to be honest with you that dealing with those moments isn’t necessarily the hardest part of foster care. The devastating moments flare up and disappear, but the annoying parts of foster care are much more of a daily frustration and are a lot more likely to be the reason why I would ever quit doing this.


So before you make the decision to get into foster care, here’s what you need to know:

Visitation is ridiculous. Sigh… I don’t even know where to begin with visitation. The schedule changes depending on a parent’s plan or work schedule or therapy or whatever and it can be tough to develop consistency. When a parent doesn’t show up the child is brought back to your home which can make it really tough to make plans around this because you need to be home while visit takes place (or atleast rather close so you can get back home at the drop of a hat.) You feed your child good quality food all week with limited soda (or in my case none at all) and Mom brings McDonald’s with tons of sugary drinks and candy to visit. Yeah, not life or death.. just a personal preference and when you’re co-parenting with a stranger you are likely to run into differences of opinion on quite a lot. Parents don’t show up for a month, then reappear and everything starts back at square one. Visitation workers may tell you nothing about what happened at the visit (“confidentiality” they say with an air of superiority when you ask if the baby took a nap) or they may tell you way more than you need to know to the point that it causes you anxiety. For me, visits are THE hardest part of foster parenting.

There is no timeline. Nobody can tell you how a case is going to play out. It is highly dependent on a parent’s decision to participate in services, which is hard to anticipate. Second chances are sometimes offered, sometimes not… and sometimes even third, fourth, fifth chaces, too. You hit a deadline only to have it extended. Or somebody can’t make a court hearing so it all gets delayed 30 days. A parent is making good progress only to be arrested on something unrelated and it all gets delayed until the criminal charges are dealt with. A caseworker brings up the idea of adoption, but then a parent gets motivated and everything changes. None of these situations are devastating, but all of them get annoying as you realize you can’t make future plans when there’s no set timeline.

Communication is unreliable. Sometimes you get a great team that has quick and efficient communication (thankfully, we have that for the most part right now) and sometimes you go three months without hearing from a caseworker and by the time you do hear from somebody it’s to update you that your caseworker quit a month ago (which was my first experience in foster care.) Lawyers can be tough to get in touch with and may or may not care much about what’s happening for this child. Sometimes you need a simple answer to a question for paper you’re filling out and nobody will get back to you. There are services a child can’t receive without caseworker approval and if you can’t get in touch with your caseworker, that is really irritating.

Nothing happens in court. Oh, Court. You are an endless tease. It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been doing this, I always think something big is going to happen in court and it pretty much never does. Progress happens behind the scenes between the major players. Big things do happen occasionally, but not usually in the way I envision when I think about how things are going in the case.

You can’t find a babysitter. It can be tough to find someone to watch your kids who is willing to do the appropriate background checks. Your child may also have unique issues which can make it hard to find a qualified person to babysit. And on top of all that, you may now need babysitting more often as you’re scheduling team meetings, court, doctor appointments, and just needing some time to refresh. Lucky for us, this isn’t an issue. I have two reliable sitters and a set of parents that are willing to step in at any time when I just need a moment. This is a financial investment as well as a major investment of time. Devastating? No. Annoying? Yes.

There’s always an appointment. You’ll always have somewhere to be. Doctor appointment, dentist appointment, therapist appointment. A case worker is on their way to the house, DFCS is also coming to the house… it’s literally always something. Fostering is not for the private life – be ready to be an open book.

And expect to change a few appointments… the very minute that they were supposed to happen. Talk about being so frustrated you can’t even see straight. Rearrange your entire day, cancel several appointments, push meetings back on the calendar to make sure you’re both there because either a therapist or a case worker told you earlier that morning that she would be by for a visit at 2pm, sharp. “Please be on time. I have several other visits I have to make.” So you’re on time – and you barely make it home from a doctor’s appointment across town, but you hit the mark. Because she had asked us, urgently, to make it a priority. Two o’clock comes and goes, 2:30 passed, then 3. It’s finally 3:30pm when you receive a text message explaining that she would have to reschedule for the next day because something had come up, last minute. I guess all we had to do with our days, and our life, was wait around for someone to show up, who really wasn’t going to show up. Forget jobs, doctor’s appointments, or errands we had. It’s not that we weren’t understanding, nor patient people. We ARE – we all are, that’s why we are doing this to begin with.

You’re always being licensed. The licensing process can be a pain. You have to keep up with continuing education hours and the weight of the licensing process can seem to settle over you. I will actually wake up in the night wondering if we’re behind in our continuing education hours. Not everybody is that weird about it, but I never want to accidentally let our license lapse.



I don’t want this to just sound like whining. I realize how silly some of these things can be, but that’s exactly my point. I’m almost nervous to give this kind of a behind the scenes peek, because this stuff can be so irritating on a day-to-day basis I’m afraid it will scare people off. I think it’s easier for someone to say, “I couldn’t be a foster parent because of how heartbroken I would be to love and lose a foster child” than for them to say what may be the truth: “I don’t want to be a foster parent because it would be really inconvenient.” These daily irritations reveal our selfishness. They highlight the areas where we really hang on to our personal freedoms and autonomy. They show us where we want control and how angry we’ll get when that doesn’t happen even if the issues are minor. I see the character of foster parents revealed not in the major griefs and heartaches, but in the minor frustrations.

So think about these areas of irritation before you pursue foster care. Are you ready to handle them with grace and class? Are you willing to turn down the opportunity to help a child and a family in crisis because you don’t want to be inconvenienced? My hope is that when foster parents are aware of these issues prior to taking a placement, they won’t be so surprised or discouraged when frustrations arise.



But let’s not miss this, okay? IS IT WORTH ALL OF THE FUSS?

To read that, one has to ask, “Is this really worth it? Do I really want to put myself or my heart out there like that, just to be knocked back and forth like a tetherball?”

The answer is yes! Yes, it is worth it. The reason? Children are worth it. In the crossfire of behaviors brought on by past trauma, cold and disconnected judges, MIA case workers, a broken foster care system, and daily exhaustion that we feel from this journey, there are innocent children who’ve done nothing to deserve what’s happened to them. They were unwillingly dragged into the chaos and mess of this, caught in a hurricane of sorts. At last count, there are a lot of them. Over 100,000 currently in the United States waiting to be cared for!

We could add up all of the reasons why a person shouldn’t be a foster parent. But we could do that with just about anything on earth. It’s an opportunity to be light in someone’s darkness. For many children who come into care, their world is filled with darkness. From abuse, to drugs, to violence, to witnessing crime, it’s dark. You have the opportunity to shine light by providing love, care, positive influence, a healthy example, and more!

To love another human being with no strings attached is what we were created to do, as human beings. We’ve been divinely created with the capacity to do so. And what an amazing gift that is!


Foster Momma Monday: Meet Sandra!

28236669_1736605566362511_1029896094_nI’m Sandra, and I am from both Buchanan, Georgia as well as Jacksonville, Florida. My husband, William is from Lake Butler, Florida. April of this year will mark 10 beautiful years with him. We moved to our little slice of heaven about 6 years ago and built our home together with the help of some very special people. Right now it is just us and our two fur babies, Sarge and Dobby. It’s so hard to put into only a few words how we came to make what we felt was such a huge and very personal decision.. We found out early on that due to my PCOS symptoms that it would be hard for us to have children of our own. It was not and easy decision to come to (to 28308392_1736605623029172_1611450991_nfoster-to-adopt.) We didn’t want to go into it with our heart still broken from years of struggling with infertility and like any sane person we cringed at the possibility that our hearts could and possibly would be broken one or many times before we’d have an opportunity to adopt, which is our goal, but God has been busy at work and soon our wish to hear little feet running threw the house and hopes of being a part of helping a child grow in anyway even if only for a season outweighed all of our fears. We’ve had 9 children come through our home both for respite (a placement that is usually between a few days to a month for a particular reason or purpose) and fostering but we haven’t had the opportunity to adopt any of our “foster loves” yet. 

Q: What, to you, is the most difficult challenge you are faced with when fostering?
It’s a bit of a bitter sweet experience, fostering, because knowing the only reason they’re in the system (and in our home) to begin with is because at some point they’ve either been victim to or witness to some sort of trauma and carrying the knowledge that all they currently have of everything they’ve ever known before you are the hand full of things they’ve got with them and their memories (good and bad.) Sometimes these children are so resilient and sometimes helping them through those traumas will take everything you have but through it all saying goodbye is always the hardest part for us. 
Q: What’s the most rewarding part about this process to you?
There’s moments when you will be so overwhelmed with joy just watching them playing or watching their eyes spark with pride when they know they’ve done good or just learned something new, or hearing their laughter knowing we and our home were able to be a part of that is beyond rewarding. 
Q:What’s something that you wish people understood about ‘being a foster family?’
We wish people understood that we can’t always answer their questions about our little family and we’re more respectful about accepting that we can’t delve deeper into why they’re no longer with us or why they were with us to begin with. I think sometimes it’s hard for some of even the most well meaning people to not feel offended because they think you don’t trust them enough to let them in, when in reality you are only trying to respect the privacy of others who have trusted you with personal information. Also we’re not in it for money or to steal people’s children from them at a time when they truly just need help (and neither is DFCS.) We’re here to help and while they’re ours for only a season, our hearts will love every child God blesses our home with and we will do everything we can to advocate what our hearts feel is best for them even when it means heart break for the two of us. There may come a time when we could be someone’s permanent home and we will welcome that day with open arms but until then while unconventional we feel God has answered our prayers for children and blessed us with the means and the heart to have and help more children than we’ve ever could have dreamed. 
We have such a need for homes and I wish people weren’t so afraid of the screening process. While it is thorough to say the least DFCS is very respectful and not judgmental or pushy and you don’t have to be just a partnership or foster home if that’s not what you feel is right for you and even if opening your home is something that you feel isn’t right for you there are still so many ways to be involved in helping. There’s volunteering for CASA or Food drives, donating shoes or clothes or hygiene products. Lord knows these kids grow fast! This roller coaster is not for everyone and there is absolutely no shame in that but for those that it is the ride is rewarding and beautiful beyond measure.