So here’s the thing: if you are looking for lots of pats on the back or praise and accolades, being a foster parent (or any job in social work, actually) might not be for you.
To be fair, it’s not that no one sees what you do or that your time, energy and effort are not noticed…but it’s that the people who notice are often as overwhelmed as you and honestly they don’t take the time to tell you.
Rest in the knowledge that you’re doing a good job and assume that others notice. You can take comfort in the fact that you’ll hear from someone if they see that there’s a problem; it’s definitely a case of “no news is good news”.
That’s not to say that you’ll never be acknowledged…you definitely will (and I have to say that Children’s Bureau is really fabulous at acknowledging their foster parents!), but not every time you do something really great. It’s kind of like life in general, right?
Point being…the protection of the child in your care is what truly matters and you, as the foster parent, just keep going, keep doing and keep advocating for the kiddo.
A couple of foster parents said it this way:
“You will feel over looked, underappreciated, and sometimes treated as if you are clueless. Keep fighting for the kids in spite of this.”
“You’ll do a LOT of advocating. I used to be a much bigger pushover and now I’m pretty vocal and can make my case without bursting into tears (usually).”
Now, if you’re not typically of an emotional bent, this last comment might be confusing…but the bottom line is that it can become emotional, because these kids become “ours”. We lobby on their behalf and go to bat for them because someone needs to. And no one knows them like we do…sometimes not even their biological families.
And honestly, this is exactly what we signed up to do. If you have biological children, how often does someone tell you that you’re doing a terrific job? Not nearly as often as you hear about it when there’s an issue, right?
At work, are you often complimented on your attention to detail or is it more likely that you just keep trucking along with your nose to the grindstone, but when a problem arises, that’s when you hear from someone about the quality of your work?
Now…I hope I’m wrong and that you are showered with praises for your stellar parenting and outstanding job performance, but more often than not, I think it’s the opposite. Not that compliments DON’T come…they definitely do. But it’s not as often as maybe we’d like, or feel that they are warranted.
Point being: foster care is no different from anything else you do in life. If you are in the trenches and making an impact on the life of a child, just know that changing the trajectory of the child’s life for the better is the biggest and best praise you could ever receive.