My husband Eric and I have been foster parents for almost 11 years and we have had the privilege to welcome about forty kids (I have lost count!) into our home to show them love in some capacity. We have five children. We have three biological children; an eighteen-year-old daughter and two sons age fifteen and sixteen. About two years ago, we adopted our four-year-old son from foster care, and then we have our five-month-old foster son.
When we started fostering we were so excited to make a difference in a child's life, do some good in this world, and hopefully add to our family through adoption. Our first placements were two sisters which gave us five kids under the age of seven! Things started off okay for the first few months, but then the honeymoon stage was over and we began to realize what trauma could do to these children and to a family.
There was an overwhelming sense of failing & being alone in this journey. We felt like we must have missed something in training or that we were not cut out for this after all. We thought we were the only foster parents struggling and we didn’t know how to parent kids from hard places.
We know now that during this time we lacked much-needed support. Our church didn’t have any kind of foster care ministry and our family was four hours away. Our friends were great and tried to understand, but if you're not in it you don’t get it. We struggled for months and it took a toll on our family, our marriage, and our friendships. I know it's hard to believe, but not everyone is happy that you have become a foster parent and taken in vulnerable children from hard places!
We tried our best for eleven months to love, care for, and meet the needs of our two foster daughters but we were drowning and, in the end, asked for the placement be moved. It was one of the hardest decisions and lowest points in our foster care journey. We felt like we had failed these girls, failed God, and failed our family and friends. We felt like we had now become a part of the problem and not the solution in the foster care system.
We were DONE! We wanted to quit! No more foster care!
After some time of resting and healing (and some pleading with my husband), we were back at it again. Fast forward 6 years and we moved to Indiana and got our foster license here.
I decided I can't do this alone anymore and went looking for people. People who shared my passion, that got it. People who went toward the hurt and not turning away. It took some time but I found those people, my people. God has done amazing things through these connections, things I could have never imagined.
Then along came Care Communities! The best way our Care Community has supported us is by just being present and in this with us. They show up, they see us and what we’re doing and they want to help. We get encouraging texts and notes that say "we are with you", "praying for court", "have a great day", "thank you for what you do". They cover us in prayer. Prayer is crucial; the enemy doesn’t want us to succeed, he doesn’t want these children to heal and he wants to shut this down.
Through our Care Community, our children see the love of Christ over and over. Absolute strangers showing up with meals, child mentors giving 1 on 1 attention to our adopted son who craves it. They come to watch the littles so we can take our older kids to do something they like to do. Our foster kids see that not only does their foster family love them, but there is a community of people that keep showing up to love them too.
It's not just a meal, babysitting, or listening on the phone but so much more. It's loving us, encouraging us, and fueling the strength to foster again and again. It's loving these kids right along with us as foster parents. The people in our Care Community are a part of this foster care journey.
We love our Care Community and are so very grateful for their support. I often wonder how our first placement would have been different if we would have had the support of a Care Community surrounding us.
Want to learn more about Care Communities? Click here!
Written by: Heidi Guilkey