I was a single woman living in a one-bedroom apartment when I felt the pull to foster. I brushed it off. I worked a full time job and in my mind fostering was the most ridiculous thing I could think of in that moment. Why on earth would I attempt to foster as a single woman? Would they even let me foster as a single woman? How on earth do single moms do it all?
I had convinced myself that because I was single and worked a full time job that fostering was certainly not going to be a part of my short or long-term plan. Still, the pull on my heart continued to grow and I couldn’t stop thinking about the children who needed a home. I decided to just gather some information. After all, the worst thing that could happen would be they would tell me, “No. You cannot do this because you are single, you live in an apartment, and you work full time.”
Needless to say I was wrong. 88 days later, which is a record for getting your approval, I was licensed to foster. I was thrust into the fostering world and in the trenches before I really even had to process what was happening.
Fostering while I was single opened my eyes to so many things. Some good, some bad, and some painfully ugly; but the biggest thing being single and fostering did for me was remind me that there is room at the fostering table for those who aren’t in a relationship.
I remember when I got my first placement. I am a planner and there are always so many logistics to work out. Daycare, babysitters, appointments, time off, and just time for myself since I was flying solo at the time. I was four months into fostering when I said YES to two kiddos and I affectionately started us “two babies, one momma.” Just 8 short months later, I had earned the title “three babies, one momma.” I had two toddlers and an infant. I was still working full time. I was still the only adult living in my house and I was fostering as a single mom.
I would like to say that everyday was easy, but we all know that would be a stretch; most days we made it work. How, you may ask? A Village. A tribe. A community. Whatever you want to call it, that is how I made it. There are so many things I could share about being a single foster mom of three kiddos at one time, but let me give you my top five.
Five things you should know about fostering as a single person:
Yes, you can foster and be single. Single foster moms and dads are rockstars! You can foster one, two, three, or however many children you think that you can care for well. Of course, you will still need to meet all of the room and bed requirements!
Community is vital. Find the people who want to be a part of your village and let them walk alongside you. Not everyone is called to foster, but everyone can do something. Let them! During my time as a single foster mom, I had a village of people who surrounded me and the kids in my home; we affectionately called them the Tut Hut Village. This amazing village wasn’t created overnight; it grew as our needs grew. We got connected to local organizations, churches, and ministries that wanted to help. We had a community of people who said “hey, I can’t foster, but I can help.” They helped with meals, laundry, and meeting tangible needs. They also offered encouragement. We had exactly what we needed simply because I let people in and let them be a part of our story. There is no award for trying to foster in isolation. In fact, you’ll likely burn out- single or not.
Know your limitations. There were a lot of times that I would get a call about a placement and as much as it pulled on my heartstrings, I had to say no. I learned my limitations. I set my age range and I knew what was feasible for our daycare and my availability working full time as well. You may have some epic fails and that’s okay. You will find the age, gender, and needs that work best for you and what you can currently offer.
Take time for yourself. It’s okay to need and want a break. Even those of us who aren’t single anymore need time to refresh our soul and mind. In order for you to pour into the most vulnerable and their families you need to make sure you are refreshed and renewed first. Always put your oxygen mask on first and then reach out to others.
Lastly, not everything has to get done. Some days the dishes were not done. Some days the laundry piled up way too high. Some days the toys didn’t make it to the toy box after bedtime because I was exhausted and there were not enough hours in the day. That is okay. What matters is you encouraged, loved on, supported, and provided a safe and loving environment for the kiddos in your care. It doesn’t make you less of a mom or dad because things are left undone. I love the quote that says, “things that matter most should not be sacrificed for the things that matter the least!” The dishes and laundry can wait. Long after your kiddos move or grow up, they will remember so much more than if the dishes were clean, if the floor was swept, if all the toys were put away, and if everything was organized.
All foster parents are rockstars, but going at it single is something that is so dear to my heart because that is how my journey started. It is a beautiful, messy, wonderful, emotional, and worthwhile journey!
Crystal is a Christian, wife, and mother to many through foster care, adoption, and marriage. She loves all things Golden Girls, documentaries, Crime Series, green jolly ranchers, Chick-Fil-A, and sports. You can find her rooting hard for the Cubs during baseball season and the Crimson Tide during football season and sometimes Notre Dame because she loves her husband. She is passionate about birth families, sibling bonds, and being a resource to families in hard places.