You may have heard it said: “Foster care is not for the faint of heart.” This is not true.
I do not know a foster parent whose heart has not fainted within them over and over again. I do not know a foster parent who has not been touched by depression or anxiety or insomnia or PTSD, or all of them at once. All the foster parents I know are wildly strong and incredibly fragile. It all exists in our hearts.
Foster parents are not special or angelic or “chosen.” We cry in frustration and we curse at the brokenness of “the system.” We drink wine and binge Netflix at the end of a long day to forget. When heartbreak comes, we hold each other close and we are silent. There are no words for the pain.
You know who is extraordinary? The children we bring into our homes. It is their faces, their stories, the incredible injustices they have experienced that cause ordinary, everyday people to agree to a life like this. A life in which the only thing we can count on is that our hearts will indeed faint and falter, that we will sob in the stairwell after kissing sweet foreheads goodnight, that we will feel unsure and underqualified.
It is these extraordinary children that will fill our hearts and schedules and kitchen tables and those empty cribs we’ve been keeping in the garage for years without knowing why. It is their brokenness and their resilience that will cause us to open ourselves to brokenness and drive us to greater resilience.
When we and everyone around us are questioning what in the world we’ve gotten ourselves into, we will always know the answer. It is the extraordinariness of these children that draws us in.
We are not brave — they make us brave.
We are not strong — but we will bear the weight of the galaxy if it means lessening their burdens.
We are not some hand-picked, ultra-qualified team of heroes with superpowers specifically endowed to care for the neediest kids on the planet. In fact, most of us would admit that we went into foster care not knowing what we were doing. Or if we thought we knew what we were doing, it took less than 48 hours before we were thoroughly humbled. Most of us learn on the job, which means we fail and fall on our faces and find ourselves begging the internet for help at 2 a.m.
So, no, I do not believe that foster care is “not for the faint of heart.” It is for those willing to experience the fainting of their hearts. In return, we get to love and learn from some of the most extraordinary people on the planet…even if just for a little while.