As we often say, foster parenting is not easy. It will challenge you emotionally, physically, and mentally.
But a community of veteran foster parents will tell you that it is one of the most rewarding experiences you can undertake.
On your most challenging days, don’t forget to take a step back and remember why you’re doing this.
You may even consider writing yourself a letter before becoming a foster parent, outlining all the reasons why you’re doing it, so that you can read that letter on your hardest days.
To help inspire your thoughts, here are 10 of our favorite quotes from real foster parents, birth parents, and foster care advocates.
1. “You have an opportunity not only to help a kiddo be successful long-term, but you have the potential to help restore a family.” — Jay Priebe. A former foster child and previous CEO of foster care support organization, Hand in Hand.
Foster care isn’t about helping one person, it’s about helping an entire family. Through reunification, you’re supporting a child and their birth parents to reach a place where they can be together again.
2. “I was talking to a guy from 60 Minutes and he asked me ‘Why do parents deserve an extra chance?’ The truth is we don't. We've messed up many, many times. The person that deserves another chance is my son, the chance to be raised by his father.” — Jason Bragg, a father whose child was in foster care before reunification.
When children are reunited with their birth parents, it drives positive outcomes for everyone involved. Children are more likely to thrive in school, parents are more likely to keep stable jobs, and families are able to thrive instead of wither away.
3. “Because you know that they have a culture. They have a family. They're meant to be together. There is a true bond when it comes to having an actual family member be there for that child and understand the story that they came from.” — Sara Cunningham, foster parent.
A child’s family is greater than just their mother and father. They have uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents. They have friends at school, godparents, and teachers. When you support reunification, you’re giving a second chance to an entire network of connections.
4. “There is no single formula. This is not easy. But, you’re not alone. If you have the capacity to do it, there is nothing more important.” — Adam, an LGBT foster parent.
Foster parenting is simultaneously one of the most challenging and rewarding things you will ever do in your life.
Expect long, hard days, but also expect incredible support from other foster families and support groups. And expect to feel the love you give to your child to come back to you ten-fold.
5. “At the end of the day, I know that I’ve helped a kid who might otherwise be doing God knows what. I know they are safe, and warm, and they have food. It’s one less teenage girl out there.” — Liliana, foster parent.
It’s easy as a foster parent to get caught up in the details, like licensing requirements, caseworker meetings, appointments, and phone calls. But remember what you’re accomplishing each day as a foster parent.
You’re creating a wonderful home for a child who had nowhere else to go and giving their parents the peace of mind they need to work on their own issues.
6. “I’m now understanding that I come from a rich cultural background and I need to embrace it and share with other people and other youth that are American Indian, that are my tribe, that it’s OK to be Native.” — Daryl Conquering Bear, former foster child.
When you support reunification, you’re also supporting a child’s culture and heritage that could otherwise be lost when they’re separated from their family.
7. “Providing respite care to a foster family, just to give them a break, that can mean everything.” — Milly, foster parent.
Even if you’re not ready to become a full-time foster parent, you can support foster families by providing respite care.
Respite care allows foster parents to take a break for a few hours or a few days, so they can recharge and continue providing great care for their child.
8. “Despite the heartache, frustration, and physical demands of being a foster parent, I have never regretted doing it and the intangible rewards outweigh the cost every day.” — Wray Rives, foster parent.
Foster parents are a unique breed. They accept the challenges of taking care of a child without knowing whether they’ll be with that child for a few days, weeks, months, or years. It is an incredible sacrifice, but worth every second.
9. “We worked together, rather than against one another, in the interest of putting their family back together again.” — Paul Cortez, foster parent.
It’s easy to feel anger and resentment for a child’s birth parents, but that emotion does not help you or your foster child.
When you have empathy for a child’s parents, you open the doors for reunification and give them a second chance to have a happy, healthy family.
10. “They’re your children. Of course you love them unconditionally, but you don’t realize how much they mean to you until they’re gone. That was the roughest six months of my life.” — The Daniels family, who worked toward reunification after their children were placed in foster care.
Never forget that you’re helping out birth parents at one of the lowest points in their lives. Have compassion for them and be proud of the work that you can do to support them and their child while they get the help they need.
Considering foster parenting? To help you determine whether you and your family are ready to take the next step, download our free guide, Is Foster Parenting Right For You?