Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Hardest Part of Foster Care - Guest Post From Ashley

You may recall our friends John and Ashley, who have followed our foster care lead, been sweet friends as we journey together and burned up the text message universe with me about caseworkers, licensing, logistics, struggles and general foster care craziness.  Well, in way less time than it has taken for us to find out we are adopting our first ever foster placement, they have had four kids come and go from their home, including one respite placement. Four hellos and four goodbyes. Their emotional journey so far has squeezed them, crushed them, challenged them and strengthened them.  Many would bail after the experiences they have had, but they are determined to press on, for the sake of the children in this messed up system.  I applaud their perseverance and I'm so grateful for their camaraderie. Here are some of Ashley's own words, reproduced here with her permission, posted originally on their blog shortly after their most recent placement was plucked out of their home with little warning.


Foster Care is not easy, and no one said it would be. I think some assumed John and I were naive to this fact, but we weren't. Remember 9+ months of training. We knew it was hard. But the hardest part........

It isn't being handed a crying shaking confused child while your social worker wished you luck

It isn't being handed a child with only the clothes on their back

It isn't holding the child who won't stop crying because he is in a new scary place

It isn't watching your child be uncomfortable for weeks, because of their new environment causing them to be fussy and/or looking uninterested

It isn't all the doctors' appointments

It isn't trying to schedule all those appointments, considering your work schedule, your husband's work and school schedule; while the doctors and specialists couldn't care less about all those things

It isn't dealing with insurance

It isn't waking up 10 times in the middle of the night or sleeping in their room because they are scared and haven't adjusted to their new environment

It isn't the dealing with the aftermath of parent visits

It isn't dealing with various people coming into your home, constantly making sure you are a "suitable" parent

It isn't daycare telling you the odd things they notice

It isn't people staring and asking random (and sometimes inappropriate) questions because your kid is obviously a different ethnicity

It isn't worrying and trying to give your child all the experiences they need and deserve so they can catch up developmentally

It isn't learning their personalities and all the little tricks you can do to keep your child happy and calm

It isn't the slight panicking every time you take your child somewhere new because you have learned they have anxiety and these situations make it hard on them

It isn't trying to juggle discipline, understanding various behaviors because this is a a child from a hard place vs development

It isn't numerous people watching you 

It isn't the crazy questions you get about your fertility when people find out you are fostering

It isn't the trying to juggle what to pack and not pack in the weekend parent visit bag, because you don't want to offend the parent, but you want your child to have everything he needs for a wonderful weekend

It isn't knowing your child has become comfortable with you, but would still choose his biological parent if given the choice

The hardest, worst part is packing up and watching a child you love with all your heart leave your home, going to a place you may never know is truly ready and good enough for him. 

We can do our best as foster parents. We love these kids with everything we have. John and I truly love as if they are our own kids knowing full well they are going home. But we never know if these families have really done everything they can, if they are really prepared, if they won't relapse and end up in the same situation that caused them to have their kids placed in foster care. These families are from hard places and unfortunately that is always the situation they face. We have to watch these kids go back and pray like hell it works out for everyone without ever knowing the outcome. 

It is the hardest thing John and I have ever had to go through.


  1. I could not have said it ANY better!!! And in light of the week we have ahead of us, with our youngest headed back, THANK you for sharing this!!!

    1. Oh blessings and prayers headed y'all's way!

  2. So true! Saying goodbye is the hardest part. Our foster daughter went home to her mother about a month ago (after we cared for her for the first 6 months of her life) and I think about her every single day. I pray that she is happy and safe and cared for, but I will never know. We foster parents have no right to know anything about a child after they leave our home. Even if mom's rights were terminated and we adopted she would have more rights than that in an open adoption. For us as the adults it's definitely the hardest part, but when I really struggle I come back to a post you wrote about a year ago, Anna. That the risk of my heart breaking is worth the risk if I can help a child who needs it.