I will like to examine an issue that touches so many lives in our society and families. It is the situation of receiving foster children into our homes and caring for them.
It’s a very good thing to receive foster children into our homes and to love and care for them.But the challenges could become overwhelming.
will like to examine some issues I’ve learned from this kind of relationship based on my own experiences.
I know how some foster parents will go the extra mile to show how much they love their foster kids, but at the end of it, all they seem to get is “if my mum were here she would do better.” I admit it’s not easy to swallow that pill after you’ve done all you can to make their life comfortable. “If only she could show a little more appreciation for all we are doing for her.”
Let’s see it this way:
No matter how good you are as a foster parent, you will “never” be able to replace a child’s biological parents. Do not even try to give yourself that impossible task. In my part of the world we say “blood is thicker than water.” No matter how hard you try, somewhere deep down there that child keeps thinking of what she is missing out on by being away from home. Some of them actually think that life has conspired to keep them away from their parents; and you are one of the conspirators.
There will always be regrets related to a child leaving their home, even if they were abused there.
I’ve seen a some of them really integrate into their foster homes with satisfaction because they have been rescued from precarious situations. But if your own child doesn’t fit that way, don’t lose hope.
What we should know is that some of those kids don’t even know what is wrong with them. They know that you love them and that you are doing everything to make them happy; but somehow they just can’t find that happiness. There seems to always be something missing. That missing link is the absence of that “kind of love that only their momma and daddy can give to them.”
This is a situation that creates a lot of misunderstanding between the two camps. The foster parents think the child is ungrateful while the child thinks they aren’t doing enough. The issue here is more psychological than emotional. This becomes even more complicated when children are against their will forced to live in foster conditions because of the circumstances of their lives. “Prison is prison…no matter how comfortable it gets.”
If you are a foster parent, this is the advice I can give to you:
Try as much as you can not to show to your foster kids that you are keeping them against your will. “I wish I could get rid of you one of these days.”
This can create in them a sense of rejection that will haunt them all their lives. Even when they become adults they could avoid visiting and staying in other people’s homes because they are haunted by the idea of not being welcome. They could find it difficult to appreciate hospitality because no matter how well you receive them they are too busy fearing the worse, to appreciate the good food, nice shower and comfortable bed you offered them.
Be honest and transparent enough to let them know that you aren’t trying to replace their parents; you really can’t do so even if you wanted to, and that you are doing your best to keep them comfortable; even it you can’t do it as their parents would.
Never devalue their biological parents in their face.
Do not say or do things that seem to suggest you have no respect for their biological parents. Again I say, “blood is thicker than water.” “Even if my mum is insane, she’s still my mum…if my father is a drug-addict, he’s still my dad. You are rich, you are educated, but you can’t replace my parents…” That’s how they will respond; at least in their minds, if they aren’t courageous enough to tell you that in your face.
Do not compare your foster children to your biological kids.
“You’re not as intelligent as Suzy…you aren’t as smart as Benny.” We must admit that the play ground is not level. On one hand we have children who already feel as “unders” because of their circumstances and everything they do is somehow colored by that reality. Then we have another set of kids who feel on top because of their own circumstances. Some foster kids feel rejected and can’t really relate or fit in. consequently they do some “stupid things”, not because they are stupid but because of the mind set they carry. The more you scold such kids, the more errors they commit. Don’t let it become a vicious cycle.
Do not make the foster kids servants to the biological ones; make sure your own kids do not subject them to unfair treatment because they are not their siblings.
So many wrong things could be going on under your roof without you being aware of them. Keep an eye on the kind of relationship that exists between your kids and your foster children. Immediately correct any irregularities.
When your foster children become successful in life do not try to make them pay for the help they received from you.
If they wish to appreciate you, let it be their initiative. Do not make them do it. Some will prefer to help the parents who abandoned them earlier on; some will stick to the foster parents. Whatever the case may be, consider that you did what you thought best for them and that God alone can reward you. Do not squeeze it out of anyone.
And you, foster kids, do not make life any harder for your foster parents. Cooperate. You are family.