Growing up, I always knew I wanted to foster or adopt. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true.
When I told my mom that we were going to become foster parents, her response was “I knew that’s what you would do. I am so excited!”
And although it was probably the hardest thing I have ever done, it was also one of the best things as well.
As you hear on the news and on social media all the time, the foster system is broken in so many ways.
We were for sure misled at first when we started looking into becoming foster parents as we wanted to eventually permanently add a child to our family. You can read more about that part of our journey here.
However, the actual experience of fostering and getting to love the children we cared for was amazing.
I don’t think I would be the mom I am now without having gone through that experience.
I grew in many ways through parenting those beautiful children, but specifically in three areas…
Being a teacher, I have always had a good amount of patience. But I definitely grew the level of patience I have when I was a foster parent.
And I always have patience with children, so for me, the patience with being a foster parent was more with the adults.
Some of the adults we had to work with were difficult at times, but we had to learn to work with them and make our focus the children.
I had to learn to take my emotions out of things. Like when someone would forget to communicate that the kids wouldn’t be at daycare when I arrived to get them, and just focus on doing what I had to do for the kids.
Now, I am using those same skills with adults in my life surrounding our new little one.
From visitors that overstay their welcome to overbearing family members, I just do what I need to do and focus on our little one.
Read more about dealing with visitors here.
While fostering, I was also a special education teacher and had a ton on my plate. My husband is also a teacher, and no matter how hard we tried, we always had to bring work home.
However, we learned to work really well at managing our time and making sure everything got taken care of everyday.
We kept a shared Google calendar on our phones so we would always know who was picking up which kid, who was going to therapy, and everything else.
If one of us had something for work we needed to do, the other would take the kids somewhere or outside for half an hour.
The kids also followed a pretty strict schedule, which was another way we could plan and manage our time.
We use these same skills now and keep Baby B on a schedule.
And as she grows and has more things going on, I am sure we will apply the same ideas with time management that we improved on when fostering.
There are a thousand puzzle pieces to keep track of when you are a foster parent. Communication is key.
I had always been pretty good at communicating, but being a foster parent took my skills to a new level.
My husband and I had to constantly make sure we both knew everything that was going on. Who was doing what appointment, drop off, pick up, calling the therapist…the list goes on.
We also had to check in with each other emotionally often, which is where our communication really grew.
And doing all of the things above in a nice, kind, and respectful way. Even when I was angry or upset.
If you don’t already have great communication skills, you will get them super fast once you have your first foster placement.
Since being foster parents, I have communicated with my husband better than ever before and he has mentioned the same thing.
This has made raising Baby B so much easier, because we can always work things out through communication.
We had our hard days, and probably more hard days than not, but it was the best experience and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
One day, when Baby B gets a little older, we plan to get licensed again and open up our home to future foster babies.