Foster kids with their foster parents

Celebrating Foster Parents: National Foster Care Month

To be proud

Pride is wrong. “Pride comes before the fall,” our elders would say. Others argued that “pride is a capital sin.”

There’s ambivalence about pride. Being proud of an accomplishment was frowned upon. For example, in my upbringing, great grades were expected, and therefore, not rewarded, and certainly nothing to be proud about.

In fact, I remember when I was growing up, at one point I wasn’t sure I wanted to be the student with the best grade or even good grades. The problem was that my mom was a teacher at my school and at one point was the principal.

I did not want friends thinking that my grades were the result of favoritism or teachers trying to curry favor with my mom. So, not only did I not want to boast or let friends know my grades, but I started intentionally getting questions wrong on exams so that I could “fit in.” Talk about peer pressure.

In retrospect, I realize that there was no reason to be embarrassed for studying hard or being the bookworm. I should have had pride in my achievements.

Foster parents and being proud

Some foster parents act the way I did. Afraid or ashamed to let others know that they are foster parents. 

There is nothing wrong with having pride in what you do or in your accomplishments and there is definitely nothing wrong with having pride in being foster or adoptive parents.

Unfortunately, a few bad apples have spoiled the reputation for others. A few days ago I received a request for a bed for a child who had been sexually abused by her adoptive parent. 

Naturally, that burns the soul and our heart aches to hear these horrendous stories. One would think that children are the safest in foster homes and especially in adoptive homes, but unfortunately, that is not always the case.

Imagine if we assumed that all biological or birth parents are abusive based on the countless children abused by birth parents. Similarly, we cannot assume that this sociopath, pretending to be an adoptive father, is representative of all the wonderful adoptive parents and those desiring to adopt.

It is time to reclaim the narrative of what it means to be a resource parent. Let foster and adoptive parents tell their own story and not be defined by what a few bad actors have done.

Celebrating foster parents

May is the National Foster Care Month. There are so many wonderful parents among us. 

For example, Julian S. who has cared for children and because of her influence, the children improved their academic performance in high school and then went on to college.

I also remember Alma K.S., who has served with distinction, who not only cares for teens with troubled histories, but has also adopted these young people.

I can also share about Ernesto S. and Julia S., who because of their swift action, saved a baby from asphyxiating.  

Consider Shejuanis S., who seems to never say no, and has had a positive impact on the lives of so many children, that we have all stopped counting.

I could name countless others, including but not limited to Celia A

and Bridget S., who go out of their way to ensure that the children in their care have a safe, caring, and nurturing environment.

Similarly, William P., who has been very successfully caring for young boys who others had given up on.

And the list goes on and on. These names are representative of all other foster parents. I can name hundreds of specific examples of selfless, thoughtful, generous, sacrificing, giving, kind, resource parents.

Foster parents, lift your heads up high and walk with pride.

We celebrate you because we know that what you do is special. Experience shows us that only people with a very huge heart, are willing to open their home to children in need of nurturing.

In case you forgot why you should be proud, here are some reasons:

  1. Completing the approval is not for everyone. Many start but not everyone finishes. The selection process is challenging. I remember my son getting ready to audition with his clarinet, praying and hoping he would make it because he knew the orchestra would have a European tour that year, and he wanted to be part of that. When he made the orchestra, he was overjoyed. The approval process is like that. A sense of relief when it’s over, but that’s just the beginning of your journey as a foster parent.
  2. Endured the training. Very few people like being told what to do and how to do it. In fact, it seems as though the more knowledge we acquire, the greater our egos. Some birth parents believe that they know it all, and yet, foster parents demonstrate incredible humility and willingness to learn new things and to adjust their parenting style. As someone who works with foster parents every day, I admire them deeply
  3. Foster parents open their hearts and homes. As foster parents, you never really get used to people visiting your home unannounced. That happened during the approval process and will continue to happen as you serve. That is why foster parents ought to be commended for the great flexibility and patience.
  4. Family sacrifice for the greater good. It is not only the foster parents who model exceptional altruism, but their family does as well. Many resource parents have children of their own and these children are asked to adjust their sleeping arrangements and accept to share their parent’s attention. Children are interviewed and quizzed during the approval process and then also share their parent’s care with another child. In those cases, we honor parents and children.

I listed four reasons, but I could go on and on.

Be proud!

You should be proud! Whether you’ve been a resource parent for 10 years, 1 years, or 1 month; or maybe you have recently completed the resource approval process but you’re still waiting on your first child, you can be proud. Have a sense of pride in what you do every day as you ensure that children have the best environment.

Yes, the confidentiality requirements preclude you from going about telling everyone that you are a foster parent. I understand that, but that’s no reason to not embrace the beautiful work you are doing. Thank you for all you do as foster parents.  

I also personally admire the social workers, many of whom have children of their own, plus 15 or so more under their care. It is not an easy task being a social worker and a parent. But I know that as in every relationship or partnership, there will be moments in which parties become frustrated with each other, but please share your empathy towards one another.  We promise that we will continue doing our best to provide the best support.

Conclusion

Foster parents, next time a relative or friend questions you about your choice to be a resource parent, dare them to serve one day as a foster parent. 

Although we still will not wear the shirt with the hashtags showcasing the parent’s role, we can at least use them here: 

#happyfosterparents   #proudfosterparents 

Thank you and congratulations, especially during National Foster Care Month.

 

Reflection

  • What are your thoughts about pride and the statement that “pride comes before the fall?”
  • What do you say about the sense of pride that foster parents should have?

 

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