Foster parents are asked to do what might seem like an impossible task: Take a child into their home and heart, build a trusting relationship, provide compassionate care and then say goodbye when the child returns to his or her family or moves on to another permanent placement.
The hard reality is that helping children as a foster parent can be heartbreaking, joyful, exhilarating, rewarding and frustrating, sometimes all in the same moment. But for so many people with big hearts and a love for children, the reasons for being a foster parent far outweigh the reasons not to.
I was taken in by another family when I was a kid. I want to give back what was given to me.
We love to help kids, and we felt like this is something we were meant to do.
At Boys Town, we ask men and women who want to become foster parents in our Foster Family Services program to take a leap of faith. That leap is made a lot easier because we provide them with excellent training before a child is placed in their home and offer valuable support once a child arrives.
There is support out there, and Boys Town is where it's at!
Even then, caring for a child you don't know is a huge responsibility. Most foster children have suffered damaging, traumatic experiences in their lives. They may have been abused or neglected. They may have lived in other foster homes where they were not treated well or didn't get along with their caregivers, creating a sense of mistrust and suspicion. They've been pulled away from their parents and siblings, and no matter how bad their home environment was, they still miss their family. And now, in their new foster home, they have to depend on strangers for all their needs.
My almost 4-year-old foster child used to cry a lot for her mom. It would break my heart. I did not know how to explain the situation to her. She has managed to cope, and depends on me a lot.
Foster children just want a safe, stable, happy life. They crave structure and affection, and they want to know what's going to happen to them from one day to the next.
That's what a Boys Town foster home provides. Our foster parents strive every day to ensure that the children in their care feel welcome, loved and part of the family. Foster parents also want them to have the same opportunities for positive experiences as kids who are not in foster care.
The kids we've had want and need unconditional love. It's hard, but it's worth it. It's not about you, it's about the children.
The kids give you as much as you give them.
In Nebraska, recent legislation provides more freedom for foster parents to care for foster children like they would parent their own children. Besides receiving safe, consistent care and learning skills that will help them find success, foster children can also enjoy "kid experiences" like birthday parties, playing sports and working at a part-time job in the community.
I love seeing their smiles and hearing them tell me they love me.
Kids consciously or unconsciously let you know they appreciate what you do.
When Boys Town interviews foster parent candidates, we tell them they can "be the one." The one who makes a lonely, lost child feel accepted. The one who helps a child with a long history of school failure experience the thrill of getting an "A" on a test. The one who cheers the loudest when their foster child plays in his or her first soccer game or walks across the stage to receive a high school diploma. The one who helps a child reconnect and reunite with his or her family. Sometimes it only takes that one person to make all the difference in the world.
I'm a foster parent because there are a lot of kids out there who need one.
Will you be the one?
For more information about Boys Town Foster Family Services®, please call (402) 498-3036.