Foster Love: Three Good Things

This week was definitely a no-doubt-about-it-I’m-a-parent week. It felt like it dragged on forever while simultaneously passing too quickly for me to accomplish everything I meant to accomplish. But I liked it. It made me feel like I think many parents feel quite a bit of the time and helped me make it to today feeling just a tad more legit.

Happily, this post had been rattling around in my head for a few weeks, making it pretty easy to write. Shortly after the girls arrived, I started a list of the aspects of foster parenting that I loved or at least appreciated for the sake of personal growth. It helps me focus on gratitude in those moments when I desperately need a bit of a boost. I keep adding to the list, so there will be more gratitude posts in the future, but today I simply offer you three good things about being a foster parent.

1) The kids in foster care are talented, creative, and intelligent. Add to that the bravery, tenacity, capability, and resilience they’ve had to acquire over the years just to make it to today still intact, and you’ve got the recipe for some of the most brilliant, compassionate, determined, and courageous people you will ever encounter in your lifetime. And, for however long they are with you, you get to learn from them and they get to learn from you. It’s a pretty awesome arrangement.

2) Your heart cannot be lazy. Unless you’ve fostered your child from babyhood, your kid did not grow up absorbing the hundreds of ways you show your love without thinking about it. So you learn to be intentional about letting them know you love them. Something as simple as buying their favorite orange juice or making a meal they love but you do not particularly care for becomes an act of love, a way of showing them you are paying attention to them and think they are valuable.

3) Two words: Training workshops. I know, I know. When your schedule is already stretched to capacity, the last thing you want to do is spend a precious evening or Saturday inside some conference room with the one foster parent who won’t stop asking questions they’d already know the answer to if they’d just been listening instead of doodling on their handout. But think of it this way: biological parents and stepparents generally aren’t offered parenting workshops once their children are outside of the early childhood phase or else they have to shell out money for the education you are receiving for free. Plus, training workshops are a fantastic way to meet other foster parents and get answers to questions you cannot crowdsource to your Facebook friends for fear of breaking confidentiality.

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