Foster Parent v. Foster Child

I read a post over at Quilt of Grace titled “Final Thoughts on Foster Parenting.” In the post she describes her experience as a foster parent and how it affected her family. The experience was not what she expected she writes:

“Being a foster parent is mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting” and that “Parenting 5 biological children and 2 foster children is NOT the same as parenting 7 biological children.”

Foster parenting is not for faint of heart. It is a difficult job that is made more difficult by the foster care system. I think people believe that opening their homes to foster children will be the same as opening their home to their own newborn child. When you are dealing with your biological child, you are the only person they have known as a parent but when you are dealing with a foster child they look at you like the enemy that has stolen them away form their family and everything that they know. Being taken into foster care is a very traumatic experience in and of itself. Children are often taken while at school, in the middle of the night and even snatched away form their parents in the presence of police officers, kicking and screaming, by perfect strangers. Most times they don’t understand why this is happening and didn’t even know that they could be taken form their home. For a child this is akin to abduction or kidnap.

“Having 4 biological children gave us little preparation for parenting fosterchildren…love and guidance are primarily what biological children need. Theneeds of our foster children far surpassed the needs of our other children…Tothink that “all these foster children really need is to be loved” is the height of naivety. I admit that they were once my thoughts. I was wrong. “

So the children are now placed in the home of a stranger and expected to fit in with the rest of the family. The are allowed to see their families once a month in a strange office for 1 hour. They beg their family to take them home but, the family is not able to. At the end of the visit the child is given back to the foster parent whom the child views as the barrier between them and their biological parent. In some cases the child is not able to comprehend that the parent has done something wrong. In some cases they don’t understand that they are being protected.

“Toddler foster children will not be thankful that they were taken away from their abusive and neglectful parents and placed into your safe, loving home. They will not view you as their savior. This was very difficult for me. I will never forget the first visitation. I’ve described in other posts the life and treatment of Matteo and Angelo before they came to our home. At the end of the first visitation, I had to pry Matteo’s arms off of his biological father. The boys were screaming and crying. They did not want to come back home with me. They wanted their daddy. He may have been a horrendous daddy, but he was the daddy that they knew. I don’t know that I ever got used to that.”

“Unless you have been a foster parent, do not give parenting advice to a foster parent unless requested…Until you have walked in a fosterparent’s shoes, you have no idea.”

I have not been a foster parent but, I have been a foster child…and a very difficult one. I have talked back, ran away, broken the rules and stole thing from my foster parents. When you are dealing with foster children they have been shipped around from environment to environment. Foster children can go through many different placements while in foster care…and not all of them are good, loving families.

Some of them more hostile than the one they were taken from. The lack of consistency and stability in the foster care system helps create fear, rebellion, distrust and bitterness in foster children. I will never forget the time when my social worker couldn’t find a placement for me so, I had to stay in a juvenile mental hospital. The room was set up just like the mental ward in the movie “One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest.” The room had about twenty hospital beds in it and I was the only one in that room. This was so scary for me. When the staff would take me for breakfast I saw kids staring at the television, some were rocking back and forth and some just moaning. This is only one situation, but it is situations like these that compelled me, as a foster child, to harden my heart. It was a coping mechanism. It didn’t matter what the foster parent did at this point because I had already learned not to trust anyone but me.

I commend the author of the post “Final Thoughts on Foster Parenting” for opening her home. Even though I treated my foster parent badly then, I am so very grateful today for what they did. They were a life raft when I was drowning. They showed me what patience, tolerance and longsuffering was. I didn’t know it then but I do know it now.

This post is dedicated to my foster parents Mr. and Mrs. Belgrave.


  1. Sallie says

    My grandparents fostered over 100 kids in their small community. Many lives were given second chances. They even adopted one of the kids but almost couldn’t because they were so old. It basically came down to no one else would take my uncle because of cerebral palsey and so the court went ahead and let my grandparents adopt him. They probably had him for 10 years as a foster child first though.

    God bless,


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