Forever Family: for the love of a foster parent

Foster parents are made of strong stuff.

They find it within themselves to open their hearts and homes to children in need, offering a stable life to young people struggling to find their way.

They work to maintain relationships between children and their biological families, often while those families are working through their own issues.  They take charge over souls who have experienced unspeakable trauma and walk with them through the fire of recovery.

And they love these kids deeply, unconditionally, despite the fact that they might only be in their lives for a short while.

I’ve seen some incredible stories born from the foster system.

Adults who find this is their calling – to love children who need kindness and compassion, until their families are ready to provide a good home for them.  These adults touch countless lives, making a difference every time they tuck another soul into their heart, and it’s truly inspirational.

Men and women who enter the foster-to-adopt program, ready to step in as parents yet prepared to step out if the biological family recovers, demonstrate a bravery above and beyond belief.  This was a path we were unable to take ourselves…I simply wasn’t able to move beyond the possibility that we’d grow to love a child only to find ourselves saying goodbye.

I’ve seen several successful foster-to-adopt stories.  Children who came out of a home, needing somewhere safe to live and be loved, only to find parents waiting to welcome them with open arms.  I’ve seen beautiful adoption announcements when those children are recognized by the law as members of their new family.  That moment when paperwork finally catches up with what the adults already know – these children are forever loved.

But I’ve also seen the flip side of the coin.  Instances when foster-to-adopt falls through, and parents find themselves saying goodbye to children they’d hoped to raise.  Times when, for a number of reasons, kids are reunited with biological family members and foster parents must give up the dream of becoming a family.  The love never fades, but the everyday presence of those precious kids does.

It’s brutal to see.

Which is why I am so awed by foster parents.  Without these men and women there would be some children who never experience a warm and caring home life.  They open their hearts and put them on the line, sharing their love even though they can expect little in return.  Even though sometimes they have to give everything up in the end.

But the love…it’s always about the love.

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