when they may leave
I'm a foster parent and I also provide training from time to time for other foster parents. One question that I hear over and over is:
"How do I invest all that love into a child that most likely will not remain with me anyways? How can I do that and not be hurt in the end?"
Everyday, foster parents all over, open the doors of their homes to children in need of safe, caring support. For many reasons, it is sometimes essential for children to be removed from their biological families in order to be safely cared for. It may be for reasons of abuse, neglect, substance abuse... but for whatever reason, the ultimate goal remains - to provide safe refuge for hurting children.
Foster parents are special people who open their homes, families and lives to taking in children, meeting them where they are, and providing all that they need to thrive in life. Sometimes the stay of the child will be very temporary, other times the child may remain for months or even years. Besides opening their homes, foster families open their hearts as well.
Opening your heart to a child that may not remain in your care is a risk. Is it a risk worth taking? It is but it is important to understand from the beginning that this may hurt in the end. The pain of losing a child you love is ok to experience. It is not wrong. It does not mean you failed at "your job" and it doesn't mean that you are "not strong enough to be a foster parent".
It means that you are fabulous at what you do. Not everyone can love a child that is not "their own". Thats ok too but as foster parents, we agree to give love to children as if they were our own, while remaining aware that they are not.
How then can we possibly love and let go and be ok?
When we understand, I mean really understand that ALL children require and deserve unconditional love, respect and acceptance, then it becomes unquestionable as to whether we should take the risk in offering our love... and possibly hurting in the end. It is however, vitally imprtant that we also remain in the knowledge that these are not our children. They do have other loyalties and they do want to return home for the most part, and if the time comes that it is safe for them to do so, that is best.
Our job, as foster parents and carers, is to love them while we have them. Intill in them a hope for the future, and provide them with as many tools as we can for them to be successful in life, whatever they may face. When we do these things, with the understanding of how important it really is, we find less pain, or find the pain earier to manage when we must say good-bye.
Love makes "good-bye's" harder but if what a child felt and learned in your home was that they are worth being loved, then you have bestowed on them a great fortune and they will never forget it.