Why I Love Having Friends Who Are Foster Parents

Photo by Katie Treadway on Unsplash

My kids and I are on a road trip this week.

After flying across the country and spending a few weeks with my parents, the kids and I took off in our rented vehicle and started a little tour of visiting friends in another city. I booked us a suite at a hotel and we made ourselves at home there for two nights, enjoying the pool and the continental breakfast and Disney Jr., and the unlimited evening Happy Hour snacks. And over the course of three days, I got to visit with three women who are dear friends, two of whom are also current or former foster parents (and the third knows a lot more than the average person about the foster care system through being friends with several foster parents).

These women are awesome, and we would be friends whether we shared foster care in common or not. We spent hours talking about our experiences growing up, dating, marriage, the enneagram (it seems like all my closest friends are into it as much or more than I am!), our shared Christian faith, and our careers. We laughed together and talked so freely and easily, and spending time connecting with each of them was such a balm to my soul.

But the thing that was more special than anything is that we also share this experience of foster parenting—this strange, hard, beautiful, redemptive experience of foster parenting. And being able to talk about our experiences—the challenges and the triumphs—without feeling like we have to watch our words or fear being misunderstood was so edifying.

We discussed books we’ve read that have been helpful. We discussed “nature versus nurture.” We discussed ACEs and the long-term effects of early childhood trauma, prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol, disruptions and attachment. We discussed our own trauma, PTSD, triggers, coping strategies, and failures. We helped each other see progress and victories that are hard to see when you’re living in the day-to-day. We listened and shared and encouraged and supported each other.

And when our time together ended after each visit, we felt lighter.

I know we did.

Somehow, sharing together and being together and laughing together lifted our spirits and lightened our load.

I am grateful for all of my friends. I have some really, really great ones!

But, in this season of my life, I have a special gratitude for my friends who are foster parents. I’m grateful for time and space and opportunities to be with others who get it.

The challenges of foster parenting can leave us feeling discouraged and alone. Do you have friends who are foster parents? Do you have a supportive community where you can speak freely and just let it all hang out? If not, I invite you to join mine! The Flourishing Foster Parent is a community of foster parents who meet online almost every week to share together, check in with each other, and discuss a topic relevant to being a foster parent. Some of the connections I’ve made in this group have turned into friendships offline as well. If you are feeling alone on this journey and would benefit from being part of a community of people who get it, go to Patreon, look under “Become a Patron,” and click on The Flourishing Foster Parent to join us!

Who Is In Your “Circle of Support?”

I just discovered this wonderful resource on Jayne Schooler’s blog and had to pass it along.

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I’ve said it several times, but I’ll say it again:

It is vital that you have a strong support system if you’re going to be a foster parent.

But I’ll also say this: one of the things that surprised us after we started our journey was who comprised that support system!

Some of the people we thought would be most “with us” were not even part of our lives anymore by the end of our first year as foster parents, while other folks who were only peripherally part of our lives when we started our journey have become like family, playing significant roles in the lives of us and our children.

If you are starting your journey as a foster parent, or are already on your way but struggling to identify who might surround you and be part of helping you stay the course, I hope this chart will be helpful to you!