by Chris Johnson
Foster parents are some of my favorite people in the world! They truly are heroes, as they put others ahead of themselves on a daily basis. They focus daily on what is best for the child in their care and strive to better that child’s life and circumstances. It truly is an honor to be a part of this wonderful group of people.
There are often great misunderstandings about what it takes to be a foster parent. Many have a heart for others, but they feel inadequate to serve in this special capacity. This struggle leads to statements such as, “I could never do what you do,” or “I just don’t have what it takes to be a foster parent.” While some people use these expressions simply as excuses to not step up and meet a great need, many legitimately feel that they do not have the ability to answer the call to be a foster parent. You may be wrestling with this reality yourself.
While there are certainly some basic necessities for being a foster parent (which I will address in my next post), there are some clear expectations that are truly misconceptions.
There are at least three misconceptions about what is necessary for you to be a foster parent:
1. You have to be a perfect parent to be a foster parent.
This statement could not be farther from the truth. If this misconception were true, it would eliminate everyone I know, including ME! Some people think that because they have made parenting mistakes with their own children, they are not qualified to care for foster children. The reality is that children in care are not looking for perfect parents. These children are not perfect themselves, and they learn best by watching imperfect people deal appropriately with their imperfections. We make mistakes as parents, and then we own our mistakes and strive to learn from them. This is what our children need to see as they navigate through their own issues and frustrations.
Please do not put off fostering because you feel inadequate. Perfection will never come, this side of heaven, so stop believing this lie and step up as you are, imperfections and all!
2. You have to have all the answers and everything together to be a foster parent.
People often express that they are waiting for the right time or waiting for everything to fall into place before they become a foster parent. Some feel that they just do not know enough to be a foster parent. The reality is that the “situation” will never be perfectly lined up. You will never have enough time. You will never have all the resources. There is a certain element of faith that is needed to step up to this calling. No one starts off knowing all the answers. There are so many opportunities and resources available to help you grow in your knowledge and understanding of what is needed to excel in your mission to be a great foster parent.
3. You have to be able to do everything on your own to be a foster parent.
The reality is that no one can do this type of service on their own. No matter how strong you are or how well prepared you feel, you need people around you to provide support, encouragement, and wisdom. The best foster parents I know are those who have surrounded themselves with help from their family, church, and community. When you become a foster parent, there is also a full system of care to assist you to navigate the journey. There are case managers, guardians, therapists, specialists of all kinds, legal teams, coaches, and many others who partner with you to help you be the best parent you can be. My wife and I are so thankful for the people in our lives who regularly come alongside us and help us in so many ways.
You have probably heard the statement, “God doesn’t call the equipped, but He equips the called.” If you are being drawn to be a foster parent, know that God will provide for you the assistance and wisdom that you need. The reality is that those of us who have answered the call to provide foster care often struggle with feelings of inadequacy and sometimes get overwhelmed; however, it is in those times that we look to the God who called us to this task. It is in Him that we find strength, encouragement, and help in our time of need. “I will lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord…” Psalm 121:1-2a
Which of these untrue statements are holding you back from being a foster parent?
What is standing in the way of your saying yes to this amazing calling on your life?
If you have questions, please let me or someone on the Kids Central team help you navigate through the uncertainties. We would love to help you provide the care and support that our kids so desperately need. Next time, I will share with you three things that are needed to be a great foster parent. I think you might be surprised to find out that you have exactly what it takes!