Children are the future of every community, and that means every child. Unfortunately, some children find themselves in circumstances that are unsafe and unsustainable. Their biological parents may have hit hard times economically, developed a substance dependency problem, or might be abusive physically or psychologically. Whatever the reason, foster parents are like an oasis of stability and safety for children going through difficult circumstances.
Foster parents “stand in the gap” connecting a foster child to a brighter future
What does it mean to “stand in the gap?” For a foster child, it means acting as a bridge between a place of darkness and despair to hope and resilience. While a child is in foster care, this can give their family of origin time they need to address their unique challenges and heal from the things that drove their family apart. Ideally, foster kids can return to their family of origin if and when that environment changes for the better and becomes a safe and suitable home for them.
For some children, being placed in a loving foster home might be the only stable environment they’ve ever known in their young lives. By offering these kids a safe home and consistent routines such as school and family activities, they can begin the process of healing both inwardly and outwardly.
It all starts with unconditional love
Children learn what they live. Regardless of a foster child’s origin story, they will be influenced positively or negatively by the adults around them. If they live in fear or with violence around them, they will learn to live only in “survival mode” where they don’t know what will happen from one moment to the next. However, if they live in an environment with kindness, respect, and a true sense of being cared for, they will learn to make decisions based on those values. For children who have come from traumatic beginnings, this healing can take a bit longer to happen, and may require therapy and other resources.
Foster parents act as a bridge between a shaky present and a more solid future
One of the most empowering aspects of foster parenting is showing kids through example that a painful past (that they had no control over) does not have to equal their future. Simple actions such as family mealtimes with active listening, outings and adventures, and celebrations of milestones demonstrate a different way of living that is possible. And these positive reinforcements can have a reverberating effect well into a foster child’s adulthood.
Your influence as a foster parent is lifelong
The foster children entrusted to you may or may not stay with you long term. Some may be able to be reunited with their parents, and some others may eventually go live with biological relatives, and some may become available for adoption. Regardless of the time spent in your care, your foster children can carry your positive influence with them as long as they live, because of the memories they take with them.
A sense of belonging can be one of the greatest gifts you can give as a foster parent
One of the most painful feelings a child can have is rejection. The reality of being displaced from your family of origin, no matter how dysfunctional, can be very traumatic for foster children. When you become a foster parent, you also become a proverbial bridge of hope. And that feeling of making a difference, of helping to change the outcome for a vulnerable child, can be one of the most satisfying experiences you can have.
If you’re ready to explore your own potential foster parent journey, please contact us.