Friday, November 20, 2009

Why Foster? Here's Why...

I dare you not to cry. . . I DARE you!

A letter to all my parents:

I was going to start by saying I’m sorry that I waited so long to write this letter to say thank you. The delay means that some of you will have left this earth before I got to say these words to you - I hope I have the opportunity to say them to you in Another Place. But I realize that my thanks would have been incomplete if I had voiced them before. I would probably still have been angry at some of you and perhaps not have recognized the sacrifices you had made. I’m sure I still don’t fully comprehend all that you have done for me, but I probably never will know in full while on this earth, so well, now’s the time to take the time.

To my birth parents:

Seems strange to write to people I don’t even know, even further to be thankful and grateful to someone I've never seen and someone I cannot remember. Thank you for choosing to give me life. Oh I know, my conception probably wasn’t a conscious choice on your part, but allowing me to continue to live, giving me birth was most definitely a choice you made. You may try to say that in “those days” you didn’t have a choice, but you and I both know better than that. I admire you so much for making that choice, for choosing the harder path. I don’t know what it cost you to make that choice, but know that I know how much courage that took. I wish I could have known you and gleaned some of that bravery from you, so that I could have been strong enough to make that right choice myself.

To my foster parents:

I don’t know what you were thinking when you got me at 18 months of age. Since my birth mom was still alive I’m sure you just thought you’d have me for a few days. But things didn’t work out that way, did they? That short-term commitment you were willing to make turned into something much longer. And year after year while I remained in your home, you got attached. I gave nicknames to your birth children that they still have to this day, you placed my picture in your hallway; somehow it felt like I had become yours.

And yet, when my birth mom died when I was four, all of a sudden everything you had done for me didn’t matter - you had poured yourself into me and yet you didn’t have a voice, a say in my future. Because you were a foster parent, you had to stand back and allow biological family members to step in and take me away from you.

I heard that before me you had fostered over 30 kids and after I left you just didn’t have the heart to do it anymore. I didn’t understand that before, but now I know why - it was because you had given me your heart, I had taken it with me. I have it now, it’s taken me awhile to give it a voice, but I know I have your heart. For you see, I long to be a foster parent as well, to do as you did. To love a child, who through no fault of their own, has no one and feels as if there is no one who cares and to say to them, “you are someone. For as long as you’re with me - a few hours, for a few days, weeks or even years, you matter, you belong, you are not abandoned and unloved, you are precious, you are priceless, you are valuable simply because you’re you”.

Thank you for showing me that, for giving me that. I don’t know what it cost you to do that, but know that words cannot express my gratefulness.

To my adoptive parents:

Seems strange to call you that, for to me you have always been just “my parents”. I never knew any differently - which speaks volumes about just what kind of parents you are. There was never any question that I was yours. I know there was a day you told me that I wasn’t biologically yours, but funny how I don’t remember it. Something that huge should have impacted my life dramatically - but it didn’t - because YOU had already impacted my life dramatically. By making me your own, by never allowing your boys to call me “cousin” but making them call me “sister”. I wonder, did you have that conversation with them? Did you ever ask them if they wanted a little sister? Did you ever ask yourself if you really wanted to raise a fifth child, so much younger than the ones you were already raising?

But even as I ask that, I know the answer - you didn’t ask those questions - you knew that if you didn’t step in I would become a ward of the state. And you were my family and you were not going to allow that to happen - no matter what the cost to you. You didn’t ask questions, you took action, you didn’t complain about the unfairness of it all, you worked toward a solution. Thank you for that, thank for you never making me feel like I was a problem, an inconvenience, a burden to bear. Thank you for loving me as your own while still allowing me to freely learn about my birth parents and my foster parents, those who had chosen to love me before you did.

To my Heavenly Parent:

I know You knew me first, even before I was conceived. I know You knew the path my life would take, even before I ever took my first steps. And though some may say it’s been a hard life, I wouldn’t have wanted anything different. I am so thankful for every parent You gave to help care for me on this earth. Each of them, perhaps even unbeknownst to them, has each in their own way, revealed You to me.

Because my birth mother chose to give me life, I now know that You are the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Because my foster parents cared for me when no one else would, I know that You care for me, especially because I was an orphan.

Because my adoptive parents welcomed me into their family so completely, I know unconditional love and can believe You when You tell me You want to adopt me as well.

Funny, of all of my parents, You are the only One who has told me what it cost You, yet You don’t make me feel guilty for that. You tell me only so I can know without a doubt how much You love me.

So to all my parents I say thank you - some kids only have a few parents, I was blessed to have many. And my prayer is that my gratefulness will be translated into action. That I can take the love given me by all of you and not just hold it all in for myself, but to pour it out to others. To allow your love to continue to flow, from you, through me to others. Please know you made and continue to make a difference in my life and as a result, by the grace of God, a difference in this world.

I love you,


I've been a foster parent for fifteen years, and one of the most common comments I get is "How do you do it?" This letter - NOT addressed to me, by the way - is how. Because foster and adoptive parents DO make a difference. It only takes one: one child, one parent; to change the course of a life. Think about it. =)

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