I have known I wanted to become a foster parent since I was a child. I was adopted from foster care, so it naturally made sense. I started fostering in my mid-20s. Being a good mother to my foster children has always come naturally to me, but being a good foster mom certainly did not. It took a while for me to learn what being a good foster parent means, and to understand it is different than simply being a good mother to the children in my home.
You see, being a good foster parent means more than just stepping up to help a child in need; it also means opening your heart to a struggling family. Foster parents can be the voice to empower a family in crisis in our community, and the voice to give them hope. It is easy to pretend a foster child’s family isn’t there, but the impact to our children and our community is greater when the family isn’t forgotten. It use to be that the message of fostering was “save a child,” but today fostering is about so much more — it is about helping to heal an entire family for the benefit of the child.
There are more than 3,500 children in foster care in this region, according to statistics by the Texas Department of Family and Protective services. This means there is also an overwhelming number of mothers, fathers, and other family members currently experiencing crisis. Many of these families lack the support systems that most of us enjoy without even realizing it. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” has never been truer than today as the demands of parenthood can be overwhelming. Foster parents are in a position to help be a part of a child and their family’s village.
Foster parents can encourage families by building positive relationships with them, by sharing pictures and stories of their children, by letting them know their kids are safe, and by encouraging positive interaction and communication with their children through phone calls and video chats. Our community is also full of resources that can help struggling families. We have the Tarrant Area Food Bank, childcare assistance programs, free clinics and wellness events, and so much more. Foster parents can help struggling families by learning about resources in our community and by sharing them with families of children in foster care who may benefit.
If you have ever thought about helping a child or family in our community, fostering may be for you. If you want to be a part of a child’s village — to watch him or her learn, grow, and heal — and play a valuable role in the healing of an entire family, fostering may be for you. It takes a village to raise a child. There is never a better time than now to step up and be part of that village for a family in crisis.
The Fort Worth Moms Blog hosts 19 Neighbor Groups via Facebook, including the Adoptive Moms of Tarrant County Area. These groups are free to join and offer online and offline opportunities to build relationships and gain resources from other moms in the area.
Melinda is a former foster youth who was adopted from foster care. She is married to her husband of 10 years, Mike. She is a step-mother, adoptive mother, and a current foster parent. She has three beautiful children and just graduated from pharmacy school.