Not a Single Bit
When we announced that we were becoming foster parents, our family and friends asked many questions that fit into one of the following two categories:
“What if it hurts too much?”
“What if it costs too much?”
In reality, no one could have predicted the level of heartbreak we would experience. We couldn’t have known the amount of resources foster parenting would require. Beyond the challenges of difficult behaviors and the grief of saying goodbye to children we loved, our experience with false allegations pushed us to the extremes of sadness and sacrifice. Still, I am thankful for the opportunity we were given to be a foster family, and I wouldn’t want anyone to be scared away from foster parenting due to our experience.
While I can’t share the specific details of our situation due to confidentiality laws, I am able to share some important information, as well as the outcome and what we learned. My hope is that sharing my story will dispel the fear that often prevents families from opening their homes to children in foster care.
First, it was not a birth parent or a foster child who made the accusations against me. In fact, our children’s birth parents were some of my strongest allies. Their support was an encouragement to me then, and they are still an encouragement to me today.
Second, there is nothing I could have done to completely protect myself from false allegations. However, there are many things I did that protected me when the allegations were made:
I had followed every rule and regulation to the very best of my understanding and ability.
I had maintained thorough and accurate records of my children’s care.
I had documented my communication with everyone involved in my children’s cases.
When the investigators began to look into the claims against me, I was able to give them solid evidence that proved the claims were false. The investigation was over quickly.
Finally, community was our greatest asset. I built strong relationships with the people involved in our children’s cases, and I invited many people to be part of our foster care journey. We had a strong network of friends and professionals who were able to support us through that time. When the investigators asked for character references, we had an abundance of people willing to give their personal and professional opinions of the care our children were receiving. When our children needed extra care or encouragement, we had many friends who loved them through that difficult season. When I felt scared and alone, my family and friends did whatever they could do to comfort me. Through the entire ordeal, we were never on our own. We couldn’t have done it without them.
In the end, I was cleared of all the accusations that had been made against me. However, much of the damage had already been done. The effects of the false allegations were far-reaching: permanently changing our family and inflicting emotional wounds that took months to heal. Some of the wounds are still healing, and I wish with all my heart that we could have been spared from the pain. Still, I’m thankful we had the chance to be a foster family.
Maybe you’re thinking of becoming a foster parent, and you find yourself asking the same questions: What if it hurts too much? What if it costs too much?
I can’t offer you much more assurance than I was able to offer our family and friends in the beginning of our own journey. In fact, I can only give you two promises:
You will get hurt. Foster parenting is hard, and it requires a great amount of personal sacrifice. Witnessing the depth of brokenness in these children’s lives will break your heart and challenge your faith. Saying goodbye will be one of the hardest things you ever do. Foster parenting will stretch you in ways you’ve never been stretched before.
These children are worth it. Foster parenting is incredible, and it is one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. You’ll get to be the person who loves these precious children. You’ll get to be the one who calms their fears and comforts their grief. You’ll get to be the one who sees them smile and hears them laugh. You’ll get to be the one who witnesses miracle upon miracle upon miracle. Foster parenting will bless you in ways you’ve never been blessed before.
So, did it hurt too much? Yes. Did it cost too much? Yes.
Do I regret it? Not a single bit.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25