A Better Self

My husband and I are foster parents. We chase kids playing tag and running away. Laugh over their farts and ours. Ache over the hurts they cause because of the cause of their hurts. And cry because we aren’t sure we can do it but know we can’t quit.

We stepped into this because we had two extra bedrooms and knew there were 400,000 kids who needed a safe place to sleep. The math seemed good. We felt perfectly logical and wildly uncertain about it all. And still do.

I just didn’t know what I didn’t know about foster care. Before taking classes and caring for kids, I didn’t just have the wrong idea about foster care, I just had no idea. That’s part of why I’m so passionate about sharing my experience. I hope that the more others come to know and understand fostering, the more people will raise their hand to help love these precious kids.

Foster care has opened my eyes to the ugly shade of gray that covers so much of the world… I didn’t see it before. My options were rosy and my choices steeped in privilege. I ache for our foster kids to have that lot rather than theirs. To not have to worry who will tuck them in at night or whether they will grow up with their own brother…

Slowly, I’m learning how to be with them here despite the discomfort. To stand with them between the rocks and hard places. To stay with them in the not okay.

 Friend, don’t be scared of how it will change you, or the deep sadness of hard stories, or the secondary traumas of caring for kids who spit in your face… The complicated joys of loving kids who come and go. In the midst of our first placement, I felt lost. My easy smile: gone. My world: changed. And I did lose myself in many ways, but eventually through it, I found a better self. With a slower smile and a bigger world.

It takes one adult. Statistics show and stories reveal that one adult makes not just a difference for these kids, but all the difference.  Not one expert, not even one foster parent… Just one caring adult. One safe person who listens, believes and stays. Nobody can take away the pain of foster care or the trauma of all that has happened to these precious kids, but one caring adult can help them find their way through it!

Liz Block
St Louis, MO

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