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Why You'll Never Be Ready to Foster


min read

Foster care will change your life. And while the calling to pursue it may be weighing on your heart, you’re just not ready — not yet, anyway.  

The truth is, no foster parent on the planet stepped into foster care feeling fully ready for whatever the calling might bring. Most started where you are now — standing on the edge of the high dive, debating whether to jump. Let’s explore some of the reasons many foster parents hesitate before taking that leap of faith.

I’m too busy.

Life is chaotic right now. Between working full time, your commitments at church, the kids’ various activities and a never-ending honey-do list, you’re swamped. Foster care might be more manageable when life slows down, and you have the time to give a child with complex needs.

How often our culture brandishes busyness like a badge. There is a feeling of satisfaction and even security that comes with filling your schedule with good and important things. It's easier to say no to new or difficult commitments when every minute of every day is already booked.

But are you busy in the right way? Revered Christian author and Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom famously said, “If the devil cannot make us bad, he will make us busy.”

Foster parents have the same number of hours in their day as the rest of us. Though you may not be spending those hours doing wrong, is it possible that you’re filling them to avoid doing what is right?

Are there good things taking up your time that you could give up to make room for something better?

It’s not the right time.

We’ll foster when — the kids are older, we finish the basement, we’ve been married longer, our finances are stable. Do you find yourself making a checklist of milestones you need to reach before stepping into foster care? It’s not that you won’t ever foster. It will just be easier once (fill in the blank.)

This is a common trap prospective foster parents fall into as they justify waiting a little longer to open their home to a child. But what’s happening to that child while you’re waiting? That’s the hard reality — the longer you wait, the longer they wait. And these children cannot afford to wait. They have suffered the unimaginable and they are now stuck trying to navigate their trauma, to cope with those wounds alone.

You may be thinking, “I want to be sure we can give a child the best life possible.” But even the life you can currently offer them is infinitely better than the one they’re now trapped in. They don’t need their own bedroom, a private education or even a better version of you. They need love and safety. And they need it now.

What if I’m not enough?

Now we get to the heart of things. Say you do get licensed. Say you do bring a child into your home and you can’t handle the demands of foster care? What if their wounds are too deep? What if you have trauma of your own? What if their behaviors are too big, too scary? What if you lose your temper? What if you fail?

Within the realm of “what-ifs,” you can find a million reasons not to try. At the end of the day, you are afraid of giving your all and it still not being good enough. In response, allow me to challenge you with a few truths from God’s Word.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

There is no such thing as a perfect foster parent. Your own knowledge, skills and strength aren’t enough. But God says, He promises to give you what you need, to be your strength and to keep you from falling. For those who obey, He will provide.

I’m afraid of getting too attached.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a foster parent who doesn’t flinch when someone tells them, “I could never foster. I’d get too attached.” As if they do not. As if there is some barrier they put up around their own hearts to keep from falling in love with the children in their care.

You will get attached. And that’s the whole point. That’s what these children so desperately need in their lives — someone to love them deeply, someone to trust, someone to love in return. Loving a child and letting go is perhaps one of the hardest parts of foster care. But you must decide whether protecting your own heart from pain is really more important than protecting a child’s.

In his book “Reframing Foster Care,” Jason Johnson says, “We cannot let the fear of loving a child that might leave deter us; we must let the fear of a child never knowing our love drive us.”

This is a transformative book I highly recommend for those considering stepping into foster care.  

If you're someone who keeps researching it, talking about it and praying about it, then you most likely already know you’ve been called to do it. No amount of time, research or preparation will make you feel ready to foster. God does not call the equipped to do His work. He equips those He calls. But first, you must answer.

Curious about foster care?

Join us at one of our Foster Care Info Meetings for a casual, no pressure opportunity to learn more and ask questions – virtually!

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