Choosing Foster Care {Even Though it Hurts}

Have you ever considered fostering a child in Louisiana? My family receives tons of questions about our experience, so below I answer the most commonly asked questions and debunk some myths.

Fostering a Child in Louisiana

Our family is in the final stages of the foster care certification process; and we are eagerly awaiting sweet little bodies to fill newly purchased toddler beds. Our almost two year old can’t wait for her “shishters” to come; Dad is still pulling for a boy! We have gathered clothes for boys and girls of all sizes, and are trying to prepare our little one for the transition from only child to oldest, or youngest…or even middle! I was adopted as an infant, and have always known that adoption would be part of my journey. When I was 24, I felt led to become a foster parent, and so I started taking in teenage girls … while I was single! My husband jumped on board from the start (well, after a little hesitation). With foster care, there are lots of unknowns, and let’s face it, the system isn’t exactly perfect. We get questions about the process and the kids, so here’s my take on the comments that we get ALL. THE. TIME!

“I could never love a baby/toddler/child and give him back. It would be too hard.”

It is way beyond hard. Raising a child and having that child sent back home can be heartbreaking and devastating. Sending away a sweet face who has been with you for a year or longer, through holidays and vacations, making memories and touching your heart, it will be unbelievably sad. That doesn’t mean the child is unworthy of that love. We have decided that this can’t be an excuse for our family not to love him. These sweet kids have been through more than they should ever have to face. We can’t stand by and watch them hurt (or look away) just because we will possibly get hurt later on. The amount of joy that these little ones bring will leave a lasting legacy on our family, so if and when the time comes, we will deal with the grief and mourn the loss of a piece of our hearts.

“Wouldn’t you rather just adopt an infant and know she was yours forever?”

Sure! I would love the certainty and security, to know that my child would always be there with me. The reality is that the kids in foster care are often not infants, not up for adoption, and they should not be punished because someone chose to hurt them. They did nothing wrong, and they deserve to know it.

“How could you send a child back to the family that hurt her?” 

This is so very complicated. First off, the person directly responsible for any major injury or incident will be locked in jail for a long time (hopefully). A child won’t be going back to someone who has criminally abused her. Beyond that, it gets really tricky, though.

When I think through this, I can’t help but put myself in the picture. What if something devastating happened to my husband, and I became so overwhelmed that I eventually turned to alcohol?  What if things got worse, I stopped paying bills, and my sweet girl was removed from my care. I pray this never happens to me, or to anyone else, but if I didn’t have the support and community I have now, it wouldn’t be that far of a stretch.

My life would be falling apart, and I hope it would be a wake-up call. If I were in that situation, and went to rehab, got a support network, sought counseling, got a job and a place to live… y’all, I’d want my baby back. The goal of foster care is to keep families together, and my husband and I want that, too. We want moms, dads and grandparents who want to love and care for these babies enough to get their lives together and prove they can do it to be able to have that opportunity.

We’ve seen the other side; moms calling us, needing help because they are getting evicted and their kids are being taken. These kids want their parents, no matter what they’ve been through, because at the end of the day, it’s still their parents. We all make mistakes, and I want the same grace to fall upon these families as I would want poured out on me. 

“Are you hoping to adopt?” 

Yes and no. We initially won’t know if they are eligible for adoption; that could take up to 2 years (eek!). As I’ve already stated, we want these children to go to the place that is the best for them. If their families are capable, then we will gladly become an additional source of love and support for these kids. We would love to have lifelong contact with them if that works out! If their parents aren’t able to comply with the requirements, though, then we would be overjoyed to adopt two (or 4 or 6 or 10 if it were up to me!) sweet faces!

“Can’t you have more kids of your own?”

Adoption and foster care often cause people to assume some sort of infertility. I gave birth to our sweet Charlotte almost 2 years ago, and am capable of having more biological children. We have chosen instead to give kids a chance to be loved, live in a stable environment, and be supported in a time when their worlds are upside down. Besides, if you’ve ever taught, been around adoption, or  even just had nieces and nephews, you know that a child doesn’t have to come from your womb to be yours. Love goes beyond blood.

“You are a better person than I am.” 

I promise, I am not. We are just ordinary (bordering on boring!) people, with a tug on our hearts to give kids a chance.

One of my favorite ad campaigns ever is the Adoptuskids.org ad with the slogan, “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.” Y’all, we all make mistakes, and have to deal with hard stuff. Parenting is tough. At the end of the day, I don’t remember the random daily mistakes that my parents have made, and I have no idea if they ever threw their hands up and said, “I have no idea what to do next!” What I do know is that I could have been aborted, but my bio mom loved me enough to give me breath. I could have been abandoned, or sent to a group home, but my family chose to give me a life. We could choose to look away, or say it’s too hard, but we are choosing hope, and grace, and love for these kids and their families.

Have you ever considered fostering a child in Louisiana?

For more information, you can visit the Louisiana foster care website and you can see here for a list of all of the sweet Louisiana kids waiting to be adopted.
Stacy is married to John, and mother to four girls, all ages 6 and under. They are a foster family and are passionate about serving children and families in need. Stacy has a Master's Degree in Education from LSU, but has chosen to take a break from teaching in the classroom to work part-time, while focusing on family.

6 COMMENTS

  1. There are so many great points in this article, too many to list. However, compared to our family’s experience as foster/adoptive parents, your article (in places) seems extremely over simplified, and overly optimistic. The fact is that it is indeed possible for children to go back into homes where they have been abused and neglected only to be abused and neglected again. The fact is that an adoption process could take 5 or more years, not just 2. The truth is that these kids come with extreme psycological and neurological issues that not everyone can handle. The truth is, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever put my biological children through. All that said, I am so glad we did foster/adopt. My new son was worth every single struggle, as every child is.

    • Yes, I 100% agree that foster care is much more complex (way more than this basic post could even begin to touch!). I know that a lot of these kids come with a lot of extra needs and struggles (as do some bio kids). I also hope that as this conversation is held publicly, it becomes more of a community effort to prevent these atrocities from happening, and to help these kids get the help they desperately need. Thank you so much for your response!

  2. This sure hits close to home! We just gave our two sweet foster children (ages 2 and 3) back to their family last week, after having them for over a year. Hardest goodbye I’ve ever said in my life. But I can honestly say it was worth every tear knowing that we showed them more love than they’d ever known and more experiences than they could’ve ever imagined possible. We taught them their names, ABC’s, how to walk, and most importantly, how to trust and love others. They will forever be a part of our family and I will miss them terribly. But being a foster parent is about making the most of the time you have with them, and I feel like we succeeded. Best of luck to you. It’s an unbelieveable journey that I am so thankful to have been a part of!

    • Tammy, I am so glad that you were able to relate to the post. You are right- you have to make the best of the time you have. They will always be family, whether near or far. Praying for healing and joy in your sweet family!

  3. Yes! Yes! And Yes!! My 15 and 13 year old daughters are adopted through foster care. I loved every response and had to answer all the same questions. Good stuff.

  4. My neighbors are foster parents and ultimately adopted two precious girls that were placed with them. Thanks for what you do. It takes a huge heart, patience, commitment, and all the unconditional love you can find. Foster children aren’t broken, but their lived experiences are often traumatic and they need their foster families to understand if they misbehave, its because of these experiences. Also, no matter how bad of experiences they’ve had, most still want to go home. Sometimes the known is less scary than the unknown.

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