A couple years ago I did a series on the things that keep people from becoming foster parents. As part of that series, I addressed single foster parents. I had often heard people say they were interested in becoming a foster parent, but because they weren’t married they thought maybe they couldn’t do it, shouldn’t do it, or there wouldn’t be a need for them. I wanted to be sure they KNEW there was a place for them in foster care.
So I wrote a piece that spoke to what I knew, what I’d heard, what I believed, and what I’d read about single foster parenting. It was definitely from my perspective, which is as a married foster parent. I was on the outside looking in. I think there’s value in an “outsider” affirming the value of the single foster parent, but I also know I can’t really identify with the struggles and joys of what it’s actually like.
This point was brought home to me via a surprisingly hostile comment posted on that blog entry recently. I get my share of nasty comments, but by and large this piece has been immune to some of the controversy my other posts have stirred. And this piece has been read A LOT. It is one of my most frequently read pieces every month, so I know there’s a hunger for more of this information.
I wanted to defend myself from this hostile comment, but I ended up realizing that what I really needed to do was get some more information from the real people in the know– from single foster parents themselves. As much as I want to prove myself right, I am more passionate about putting out right information to the world. If this hostile comment was right and I was wrong, I wanted to be corrected.
So I put out a call on my Facebook page for any single foster parents who would want to answer a few brief questions for me. I. WAS. OVERWHELMED. at the response. It was beautiful and humbling and sweet.
The responses poured in and people shared their honest stories– job losses and career changes to accommodate foster care. Love beyond measure. Loneliness and isolation. A feeling they don’t quite fit in either their married circles or single circles. And SUCH amazing passion for kids in need. The joy that came through these posts. . . I was encouraged just reading them.
I am thankful to share their words with you in a series about single foster parenting that I just get to sit back and watch unfold. These are not my thoughts, not my words, just the hard-earned experiences of the people who have made the courageous choice to jump into this world.
I know there are people who will stumble upon this series because they’re wondering if foster care is for them. I can’t tell you the answer for your specific situation, but from what I’m reading from these foster parents, it is incredibly challenging and rewarding beyond what you imagine.
Single Foster Parents, you are my heroes. You are humble and thoughtful and intentional. You came into this with fear and trembling, but a confidence that you could do something just as you are. I love that. I have so much admiration for your heart and your courage. I learned so much by reading what you had to say and I’m hoping it will encourage a new generation of single foster parents to answer the call.
I was encouraged to hear a single foster mom say that my original post had been an encouragement to her when she was first considering foster care. I want to continue to be an advocate for single foster parents and express the need for their unique contributions in the system. I stand by what I originally wrote, but I also think this series will be a filling out of those thoughts and a necessary perspective shift from the outside in.