The training that these people are going through is a 24 hour (3 hours per week for eight weeks) initial training, and I come on the second to last week and talk to them about what it's really like. They use me to make an eco-map, a before and after picture of what your life looks like before you become involved in foster care, and after. I am their reality check, they're basically saying, "See you might be as crazy as this lady, and your life might look like this if you actually move forward with this!"
But then I get to tell them things I wish I'd known, and then we open it up for questions. And I started thinking today, that I should summarize what I always try and say on these evening, because I know there are many of you who are debating whether foster care is for your family. So here is a little of what I share with these families:
1. If you are going into foster care to find a easy way to build your family. Please stop now.
2. If you are going into foster care to "help kids", that is not enough. This must be something that you feel is something that you can't live without, otherwise, on the days when everything is awful, you will quit. This is not just a nice thing to do, or a charity cause, this is a life. A life that will utterly consume you and need all that you have to give, and it's not always warm and gushy feeling, it's not like going to yoga or bringing in canned foods, you won't feel like you did something great and then move on. It is a daily sacrifice and calling, that will cost you everything.
3. If you are going into foster care with a fear that you might get hurt: YOU WILL.
I think it is natural for every human being to want to protect themselves, their children, their families. It is natural to not WANT to get hurt. If you decide to do foster care, you WILL get hurt. If that is not something that your willing to do, stop now. I would argue that any person who has made a difference, changed lives, and truly helped the least of these, did not do so without sacrifice and hurt. And I think if you are not willing to get hurt, to give it all, to get beat up, and to keep on loving, than you should not do this.
4. You must have a community of people who are willing to help you. And maybe you are not suppose to do foster care, but you should be a part of someone's community and help them do this.
5. You have to read The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis (preferably several times:)
I talk about much more, I'm usually there for at least an hour and a half. But a lot of that is question and answer time. But if you are thinking about foster care, or foster to adopt for your family I'd LOVE to chat with you, and answer any questions you might have, and just pray for you and your family as you make the decision!