Written by Hallie, Single Foster Mom To Be
Hi! I’m Hallie, I’m single, 31, and in the final stages of becoming certified to be a foster parent!
Since I was 16, vulnerable kids have touched my life in a number of ways. I volunteered at Austin Children’s Shelter with friends in high school, and I rocked precious NICU babies born with drug exposure during college in Memphis. In law school, I represented kids who’d been removed from home due to neglect or abuse in their court cases, and later became a CASA volunteer. I loved hanging out weekly with teenage girls in a group home in Dallas, perfecting our “life skills” (not sure I was qualified to teach those) and volunteering in the teen parent home at the Austin Children’s Shelter. These young people are amazing, and God has put them on my heart continually for a long time. Becoming a foster parent feels like the next step God’s asked me to take. I didn’t think I’d be a single foster mom, but my plans were not God’s.
When it comes to becoming a single foster parent I would say I’m a bit apprehensive and curious. Even more than parenting biological kids (which I haven’t done), there are a lot of unknowns in foster care – I probably won’t know who is coming to live with me, their backgrounds, their full medical history, their parents, or the the kind of mac n’ cheese they love. I’m sad already for the loss and pain they will have suffered, and what their biological family will be going through. But I’m equally excited.
For me, there’s a holy level of fear that’s right and good with things worth doing. When my fears arise, I try to figure out the root of that fear. Sometimes I’m afraid because I know that obedience is costly. And sometimes I’m afraid because I’m not in control or capable.
The former happens a lot, and that’s what I hear often from others. “Won’t fostering be hard? Won’t you miss out on your own life? Won’t you get attached to kids that might leave? Won’t dating be harder?” Simply, yes. It will be hard, I will miss out on some other things, and you better believe I’ll get attached. But I think these questions and fears, whether mine or others’, miss the mark. This isn’t about me, my feelings, or my schedule. I am fostering because I believe it’s a role God has for me in this season, and because I have the capacity – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially – to do it. That doesn’t mean it won’t be hard, or painful, or sad. But it is right. Sometimes obedience requires self-sacrifice.
Fears of inadequacy, lack of control, and the unknown are different. I really want to do right by my little people, and I’ve never parented. I don’t know whether I’ll have a week or a year with a child. The more I think about it, I’m more aware of my need for God to prepare me and sustain me each day of this journey. I may not be control, but He sure is. I don’t know the future for this child, or for me, but He does. And because He loves these children and me more than I do, I trust Him with our lives.
My advice for single people out there thinking about becoming a single foster parent is…Do it! Talk to other single foster parents (there are lots of us!). Talk to your community and figure out what your support structure will be like. Single and married foster parents alike tell me that one thing can make or break your experience fostering: community. While not everyone should be a foster parent, everyone can support foster care – whether by becoming certified to babysit for foster parents, delivering groceries, hosting a shower for new foster parents, cleaning foster homes, praying for foster parents, biological parents, and children, or attending court hearings with foster families. There are unlimited ways to help. When I decided to take the plunge, I sent emails and wrote Facebook posts about my journey, and invited others to join me on it. I now have a team of over 40 people eager to help me in various ways. This is not a solo journey, and that makes all the difference in the world to me.
If you’re wondering whether you should foster, I’d suggest a few steps. First, if you’re a praying person, I’d start there. Ask God what to do with your pull towards kids in foster care. Give God your “buts” and “hows”- whether it’s how it will change your life, how it might affect your biological children, what people will think, or your emotions – and ask him to filter out any “buts” or “hows” that shouldn’t stop you. Talk to people around you who know you well – do you seem equipped or could you be equipped to foster well? Will the people around you support you, in the easy ways and the 1 a.m. Walgreens-run ways? Talk to other foster parents, and hear their stories. Find a great foster care agency, one with rave reviews from foster parents and resources to help you when you need it. At the end, if you feel God tugging you towards foster parenting, go. Be confident that God knows what you need to do what He asks you to do, and be brave for the little ones who’ve had no choice but to be.