I know I have previously talked about the impact fostering has had on my own family’s biological kids…and all the worry about it that we (and many other parents) experienced prior to jumping into foster care.
Today, I’d like to take it further and talk about the impact it has on ALL other kids in a home; this could, of course, be biological children, but it could also be adopted children.
Regardless of how children came into the house initially, fostering would have an impact on any and all of them. So, you have to consider this impact on each family member, as well as how it might play out with a child’s needs (those of either a biological or adopted child, or another foster child), and how those needs impact the entire household.
To give additional perspective on this topic, I reached out to other moms in my support group to gather their thoughts on how the children in their homes have been affected by being a foster family.
Clearly your children may be affected differently than the ladies who gave insight below…and that’s understandable, because every child is different. But regardless of your decision in placement type (age, gender, number of children, special needs, etc.), your children will be impacted.
Here’s what one mom with two biological, three adopted, and one foster child had to say about how her children now view their own future families and how they’ve been brought together and connected through the experience: “Well, I have a couple kids who don’t want to have many, if any, children, and a couple of kids who will probably have a houseful. But most importantly, I think all of the kids have learned to be aware of the labels that society tends to place on the other kids, and to stand up for one another because we are family, and that’s what family does.”
Another mom with four biological children and one adopted child (but has had over 30 foster placements come through her door) freely admitted that she and her husband launched into being a foster family without too much consideration of their other children. She said, “Well to be honest, we never really thought about the effect on our kids, but after we had our first placement, and since then, I sometimes really struggle when I think about what I asked my kids to do: to share their home, their time, their toys, and their parents and grandparents. Everything that was rightfully theirs, basically.”
But over time, she went on to realize that the experience of being a foster family has strengthened the religious faith of her children in a way she never anticipated. “I talk to a lot of people wanting to foster, and I get asked about the affect on my kids a lot. I didn’t used to know how to respond. There are times foster care has made my kids grow and feel happy, and other times it has been absolute devastation, loss and anger…but overall it has grown them so much. So now when people ask me ‘but what about your kids?’ I say it has taught my kids more about the love of God than any nightly devotion I could have ever read to them. Not just words but actions…actions speak louder!”
Here’s a mama’s thoughts on the experiences of her two daughters, both of whom were adopted through foster care, while the famiy has continued to foster other children: “At first, I had a real fear for their hearts in the process. Obviously it’s heartbreaking for all of us when a baby leaves our home. But through foster care, our children are learning compassion for babies and for their parents. They are learning to live every day in the moment and love with all their being today… right now… without worrying about tomorrow.”
And lastly, a mother of four biological children and three foster children shared a real-life moment in their lives which gave her peace that foster care is impacting her children for the better: “On a car ride home one day, our little foster daughter got sick. The kind of sick that you don’t even have to look back to know it’s bad because the sound alone was enough to tell you.
“We pulled into the garage, and my girls all helped without hesitation or even being asked. Someone ran bath water. Another got the baby. Another got the toddler out of the car and got him a snack. And I grabbed every cleaning chemical we owned.
“In moments like these, I typically worry that the girls are missing out on a carefree childhood or that I ask too much of them.
“Today while considering if I should just pitch the car seat, my worry was reframed: what if my girls were blissfully unaware of the needs of others? Without moments like this, would they truly understand that no matter what, in our family we will do that messy stuff of life together?
“We live in a world full of people who have no one to do the messy parts of life with them. I want my children to know that even the people who don’t look or act like you need someone, too. They need care, compassion, and kindness. They have physical and emotional needs that we can help meet. So as I reflect on those things, I’m thankful for the lessons that we have all learned through being a foster family.”
What more can I say? These ladies have said it all beautifully! And I hope their words of encouragement will spur you on to jump into foster care…even if you do worry a little bit about how it might impact your children.