Sometimes I think we should change our title from “foster parent” or “foster carer” to “foster child advocate.”
Because that’s really what we are.
I’m convinced that our biggest purpose in the life of our foster children is to advocate for them: advocate for them to have a voice, advocate for them to get the help they need to succeed in school and social settings, advocate for them to get access to lessons that would help them fulfill their dreams (ballet! guitar! karate! art!).
Advocate for them when they want to see their parents. Advocate for them when the *don’t* want to see their parents (but the court mandates that they must).
Advocate for them when their trauma-informed behaviors get them in trouble at school. Advocate for them when their substance-exposed brains struggle to learn, but no one has taken the time to get them tested for FASD, FAE, NAS, etc., and therefore they are held to the same standards as kids who don’t suffer from these things and treated with disciplinary action when what they need are proactive interventions.
Advocate for them when they are in trans-racial families and feeling completely disconnected and out of place.
Advocate for them when they need friends and struggle to make them.
Advocate for them when they need speech therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral therapy, and physical therapy.
Advocate for them when they need to be on meds. Advocate for them when the *don’t* need to be on meds (but have been on meds because it was just easier to manage them that way).
Advocate, advocate, ADVOCATE.
We are the front line fighters on behalf of our foster kids. We can’t leave things up to case managers or anyone else. We need to make it our business to listen to what our kids want and pay attention to what they need and help them find their voice, in big and small things.
All of this—plus everything that goes with normal parenting.
This is what it means to be a foster parent!