Dear Foster Parent,
We work together to help kids in the child welfare system. Usually, we have a cooperative relationship, each doing their part to help a child. We’ve hit some bumps in the road but managed to work things out between us. I’m not sure you know how much you are valued and loved by those social workers you’ve come to know.
We love your willingness to welcome a child into your home even when you are asked to do so on short notice. Your flexibility has provided a child with a safe, warm bed when they needed it most, even when it inconvenienced you.
We love the lengths you go to in order to help foster children maintain ties to their families. It takes time and energy to get kids to and from visits with family. You help prepare them for those visits and comfort them when they fall through. You also are there when kids come back from a visit very sad or angry. You get that their feelings aren’t about you although you are the one who has to help them manage those intense emotions. And, you do everything possible to help your foster child avoid the loyalty conflicts that plague so many children in care.
We love the unique perspective you have of your foster child. You know them in a way that we can’t. You are there for the early morning routines and late-night struggles. You are witness to their finding their place within your family. You see them when they are most vulnerable. Sometimes we forget how valuable your perspective is. Please remind us when we do so because your voice must be heard if we are to do right by kids in care.
We love your ability to fall in love with a foster child. You are the person who loves the challenge of a snarky thirteen-year-old girl who is mad at everyone. Or the foster parent who can care for a young child with complex medical needs no matter how many medical appointments are involved. Or the person willing to provide a loving home for a youth who has moved through multiple foster homes and group homes and has pretty much given up on ever being part of a family. And, who is determined to fight you every step of the way.
We love and respect that your caring for a child includes being able to let them go. Even when it breaks your heart. When a child leaves you to return home to family or to join their adoptive family you are able to celebrate with them despite your own pain. And that, of course, is the ultimate love…..the ability to put someone else’s needs before your own.
We love you for so many other things. Even when we forget to acknowledge your contributions please know that you are deeply appreciated and loved by your child welfare partners.
– Written by Diane Kindler, MSW, LICSW
*This is a fictional letter based on real people and relationships.