Oct 06, 2017
by Kristen B., Foster Parent
After a 2.5-year journey as a foster family, the children in our care are moving on to what appear to be less-than-ideal but necessary places.
Day after day, for 28 months, we flung ourselves as best we could toward fighting against all the brokenness, lack of trust, and trauma. We created safe spaces and taught self-regulation, songs, and prayers. We planted seeds of love, modeled peacemaking, and enfolded them in a village of healthy people. We built trust, consistently doing what we said we would do: creating clear boundaries with consequences and wrapping them over and over in healing hugs.
We fostered healing, or at least this was our constant prayer.
In the middle of this jagged, broken, challenging, messed up process, these children left an indelible mark on us. We poured our lives into these little ones, literally and in every way possible. We cried so many tears and beat our fists in frustration at a toxic cycle allowed to repeat itself because of a broken-down system.
Despite all this pain, part of my heart left with theirs. I find myself grieving, for so many reasons:
For the seemingly hopeless system.
For all that was left undone.
For their uncertain future where the abusive cycles will likely continue.
In my most honest, vulnerable spaces, I fear all we poured into them was just not enough.
Not enough to make a dent.
Not enough to make a long-term difference.
Not enough to impact the abusive, traumatic cycle.
Then, in the midst of all the hopelessness and grieving, a serendipitous meeting with two sweet sisters gave me a precious gift: a glimmer of someday hope.
Both sisters were in their late 50s/early 60s, I would guess. They both worked for the same auto shop, providing shuttle rides to and fro while your car is fixed. Both drove into my neighborhood to offer me a ride to, then from, the auto shop. And both clearly experienced a triggered memory driving on my street.
Both said quietly, “I was in a foster home near here, many years ago.”
I gently asked them questions, as they opened up about their experience in “many bad foster homes, and one or two good ones.” They stayed in foster care for almost four years, moving through many homes, often separated from each other and their siblings.
The “good” one was near our house.
What made the one or two good ones good? I asked.
The second sister paused and, with tears in her eyes, looked right into my heart and quietly said three piercing words I will never forget.
They were kind.
The sweet memory of this grace-filled, long-ago place hung palpable in the air between us. So real it felt she was handing over a gift to me, one of hope.
We arrived at the auto shop and sat in the parking lot for a few more minutes, soaking up this momentary, beautiful exchange. I thanked her for sharing her story. She thanked me for opening up our home for these two children. She assured me they would forever remember our home as a safe haven.
She then added, “The one good foster mom also planted seeds of God’s love, and I don’t know where I would be without that.”
I sobbed big, messy tears all the way home and at the dinner table.
After this arduous journey, we will never know how much we did to break the powerful, negative abuse cycle and broken system, but I do know with certainty two things we did do:
We were kind.
And we shared God’s love.
Someday, it is my hope that our small home in this mid-town neighborhood will conjure up fondness.
Someday, I pray these children will quietly tell others of kindness that pointed them toward a loving God.
Someday, may our safe haven somehow be part of their healing story.
This is what I hope for: that—in the middle of this big, broken world—small, persistent acts of kindness and love will someday make all the difference.
Reprinted with permission from alaskaclan.com.
- Myth: "I can't foster. I'll get too attached."
- Children and Parents in Foster Care: Understanding their emotional needs
- Trauma-Informed Foster Parenting