Along for the Ride: When Someone You Love is a Foster Parent

boy jumps to woman in a pool

When someone you love ❤️ becomes a foster parent, in some ways you’re along for the ride too. As the parent of a foster parent, Diane shared her experience loving on her “foster grandchildren” 👵🏼 on #FosterFridayLive and now you can read about it here.

We talk a lot about the foster parent experience- what it is like, what you can expect when you start fostering, but sometimes we leave out the stories of our communities of support- biological children, grandparents, close friends. The people in someone’s life that are most important to them will probably continue to be a part of their life once they become foster parents. Their experience matters too because they have the ability to impact not only the foster parents, but also the children that come into their home.  They are interacting with foster children, they are a part of your process, a part of your experience. 

Diane is my mom. She still lives in California with my dad and my sister in the house we grew up in. I moved away after graduate school to South Carolina for a job and have since settled down here. Even 2,335 miles away my family has still been able to be involved in our lives and the lives of the children in our home through trips and Facetime.

Two blonde women, mother and daughter smiling

I think for my family it was a big surprise when they heard that we were becoming foster parents because we hadn’t really been talking about it for very long and we don’t have any biological children of our own (which I know is a disappointment to my mom.) But we jumped right in to fostering and pulled them along with us. Here my mom, Diane, shares her experiences and how her feelings have changed since we first started the licensing process.

First Thoughts on Fostering

Diane: So, my first thought was surprise because you were a newlywed and I had never heard you talk about fostering. So surprise was my first, but then excitement because I love kids. I was a preschool teacher for more than 15 years, your preschool teacher, so excitement for sure and then even a little bit of worry. Because then I worried that you might not be anxious to have children of your own, but that totally dissipated because I realized I could love a child that wasn’t my blood relative and that has been the best part of it all.

Young mother and toddler daughter wearing hats

Kaley: Yeah, I mean I think that for a lot of it we were learning together. We were learning what it means to be a family and then to add people to that family. And what does it look like when they stay? And what does it look like when they leave? I think that leaving has been harder on you than on me.

Diane: I think because you looked at it where this was a temporary thing. Where for me, with your first placement I didn’t know what to expect at first. You had three kids under three and they came and stayed with me in California for Christmas for a couple weeks and I fell deep hard  in love with these three kids. And when they left I cried for like two weeks and then when they left your home for good I cried even more. So after that I thought that I would protect myself and put up these walls and not fall hard again because it was so painful, but then I thought with all the things that these kids have gone through in their short lives, they deserve my whole heart so I’m going in 100%. And yes, it is hard and it is sad when they leave, but the joy that I get from it is better than the pain. 

The Experience of Being Foster Grandparent

Oh, the experience of being a foster grandparent is wonderful! They just make me laugh. They bring such joy to our family. It’s just been great. And seeing my daughter be a mom makes me very proud. You’re a very good mom, she’s strict like I was. But, consistent, and loving and caring. She makes me proud!

It’s been different than I expected because I didn’t know that I could love someone that wasn’t my own blood the way I do. So I’m surprised at myself for how I can feel about these kids. So, yeah it’s awesome. And painful. When they go it’s hard. It’s really hard.

Young boy dragging boogie board at the beach. Older brother and woman in the distance at the water.

My favorite part is just how they make me laugh. I mean just so many cute stories that I end up telling my clients. Just oh, “he did this.” Like the little one that you have now, he had a scratch or something and we were eating at McDonald’s and I said “French fries always make me feel better.” So he picked up a french fry and put it on his owie. I laughed so hard. And then the other day he Facetimed me and he said, “I just wanted to see your eyes.” So, just joy. The joy is awesome!

The most challenging part has been letting them go. And you’ve had these two now for a year and a half and I kind of let myself go to that place that maybe they’ll be ours forever with adoption. But now the grandmother is stepping forward which is great. And at the same time I feel sad, but the whole purpose is to be reunited with family and so I feel like if she loves them, that’s all that matters because they’ll be okay. If they’re loved, they’ll be okay. And with you leaving California this time, I know it may be my last time seeing them so it’s going to be painful but we are going to Legoland today and I’m excited. We’re all excited. So we’re going to make the best of the time we have. 

Advice for Extended Family

If someone you love is thinking of fostering or starting to foster, my advice is just enjoy it. Just enjoy the kids that come into their homes. Try not to think about them leaving. Try to just enjoy the moment with them. Hopefully you’ll get those times where you are allowed to spoil them. Just enjoy them. Enjoy the moment. I have a prayer wall and I have pictures of all the kids Kaley has had and it just reminds me to pray for them every single day. And it reminds me that they’re going to have a prayer warrior for the rest of their lives because I’m never going to stop praying for them. So just enjoy.

A young boy jumps in the pool to woman with open arms

If you have a foster family in your life, someone that you love, someone that you care about, I would encourage you to reach out and ask them what they need. Ask them how you can support them and be a part of that. Like Lindsey said last week, maybe that is taking their foster child out for ice cream, being a mentor, or a tutor. Because those foster families will really appreciate that. I know that my mom has not only offered a lot of parenting advice, but she has spoiled our kids and they are so lucky for that.

How do support the foster families in your life? How do you get involved with the kids in their home? Comment 👇🏽 to share.

Kaley has been a foster parent since 2017. Kaley, her husband, and their dog Rosie currently reside in a small town in Upstate SC. As Director of SC Operations for Care2Foster, Kaley focuses on recruiting and supporting families as they take their next steps learning more about foster care. She is passionate about supporting foster families with authenticity, vulnerability, and hope. She is also President of her county Foster Parent Association.

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