Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

I talk to you often in the work I do.  I hear you say, “We want to hang in there”, or “We are doing the best we can”, and even, “I don’t know if I am up for this.”  I hear these words through your shaky, weakened voices.  But, what I really hear is you saying, “I don’t want to be another mother who disregards this child”, or “If I could, I would provide this child with every ounce of my being in order to heal him or her.”

You are walking in very heavy shoes.  You are feeling as though your efforts are disregarded, don’t matter, don’t work, and will be forgotten about in the fleeting moments of a day.  I’m here to tell you, they are not disregarded.  They do matter.  They work, and they will never be forgotten.

Dear Momma of a Stranger’s Child, you are one of the bravest mothers of all.  You’ve ventured into the murky waters of loving a child whose hurts seem like they could go on for an eternity.

You, dear Momma of a Stranger’s Child, you are a broken-hearted warrior.

You hear from others, “You are doing a good thing”, “I could never do what you do”, or “Your faith is bigger than this.”  While you hear these words of comfort and affirmation, your heart is screaming in that silent, lonely place of wondering if you really are doing a good thing, if you really should be doing what you are doing, and if your faith really is bigger than this.  You, dear Momma of a Stranger’s Child, you wonder where God is in all of the hurts put on children in His world.

You…dear Momma of a Stranger’s Child…you long for rest.  You grasp for answers, and you pray for healing.  You get angry.  You wonder why any mother would neglect, be absent, abuse, or completely disregard her child.  You wonder why you are left to pick up the pieces.

You want the Lord to step in, heal, and completely restore the broken child in your arms.  You cry and pray for this so often that it feels as though you can no longer find the words, or muster up the tears.

Dear Momma of a Stranger’s child, you were once a broken child, too.  At one time, you were lost in a world of despair.  You needed to be picked up, cleaned off, and captured by a love so strong that the greatest army could not break it.

You were worth it. You were not forgotten.  You were brought out of the darkness, and into the cleansing light.  

YOU were meant to make a difference in the world.

Dear Momma of a Stranger’s Child,  please do not give up.  You are the backbone to so many forgotten children.  You are a living example of an unconditional, incomparable type of love that is a rarity in the world we find ourselves in.

You will get hurt.  You will have many sleepless nights.  You will have some doubts, regrets, and desires for do-overs.  You will be exhausted.  You will get angry.  You may even be ignored.

But….

Your Father in Heaven sees your actions.  He sits with you in the midnight hours when the stranger’s child is raging.  He is with you when you walk out of court rooms or meetings still not knowing what the future holds for the child in your care.  He hears your pleas.  He sings over you in your fretful night’s sleep.

Dear Momma of a Stranger’s Child, do you want to know why you are probably the most important mother in this world?

Perhaps someday, the little one you are loving on, praying for, staying up all night with, advocating for, crying over, taking in or letting go, will grow up to be a Momma (or even a Daddy) of a Stranger’s Child.

Isn’t that worth it all?

55 thoughts on “Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child

  1. Pamela

    Thank you Caroline I needed to hear this. 🙂 God bless you for your gift of writing and the work you do for children! You are an inspiration to me 🙂

    Like

      1. Dana Peterson

        THis was so awesome and just got me right where I needed it today as my heart and soul are in need of rest and a break from the demons and madness!

        Fostering is such a painful journey but also so rewarding at the same time. I often wonder why God chose me and us for this journey and then he gently reminds me that I am able only through and with him!!

        Thank you for sharing!!

        Like

  2. Kristina

    Oh I needed this!! I was at the adoption forum and it was such a blessing to feel like we were in midst of kindred souls. This is another affirmation. We will keep on, keeping on…but we sure do need an ‘atta girl every now and then. Thanks for that and thanks for your story!

    Like

  3. Tammy Underwood

    The truth of this leaves me with tears streaming down my face. Fostering is the hardest thing our family has ever done. We have learned so much about love, about ourselves, and others. Some days I do feel like I cannot go on, but we do, and we will as long as God allows. Thanks so much for posting this….

    Like

  4. Kristina

    Reblogged this on Lemon Plum and commented:
    I don’t talk about my foster care journey much, but if you wanted to know how I feel, read this blogpost by Barren to Blessed. This is spot-on and I couldn’t word it better.
    As we are approaching our 1 year anniversary of fostering, I wanted to share this.
    If I were to narrow down to 3 things I wish for non foster/adoptive friends to read and know…well, read on…
    1. Don’t say (or think), “I could never do that.” A) It doesn’t help or encourage us. B) It’s not true. We don’t know what we are capable of until we are faced with it and try.
    2. Don’t disappear. We miss our friends! Don’t worry about what to say or not say, do or not do (we won’t even freak out if you say, “I could never do that.”) We need normalcy, support, and laughter…nobody does that better than friends.
    3. Ask! Fostering is such a private matter, ruled by policies, messy relationships, and even physical and psychological illness/needs. If you are curious about our lives…ask us! If you can’t keep up with the number, gender, age, etc of the kids in our care and would like to help us out…ask us! If you are just plain concerned with our mental well-being (this is a valid concern for all foster parents’ friends)…ask! We want to share (what we can, when we can) but we don’t want to impose on you and your busy life.

    Thanks to all my friends and family who have supported us. Thanks to all the friends and family that have supported other foster families. You all are part of the success that is foster care.

    Love and peace.

    Like

    1. colleen lewis

      Awesome blog. Thank you for this encouragement. Kristina, thanks also for your comment. We have been fostering for over a year and originally started off to adopt but God has put 12 children at different times in our home and I have discovered a new calling!! It is the hardest thing I have ever done, but my family has grown closer through this and closer to God. You can do this, God works in our weakness.

      Like

      1. barrentoblessed

        You are welcome. Isn’t there a saying that. “The right thing to do is often the hardest”? Fostering definitely falls in line with that saying. May the Lord continue to bless the children He has set for you to love on!

        Like

  5. Pingback: My take on: Dear (Foster) Momma to a Stranger’s Child | Lemon Plum

  6. Maryann

    I read this link from a friend who shared it on Facebook you cannot ever know how much it touched me and how much I needed to read this. I am sitting next to the tub with my iPad watching my to foster Littles (3 and 1 1/2) play extra long I n the bath while I attempt to escape a dreaded follow-up conversation with their 8 year old sister, my fd, who has been throwing a temper tantrum for the past three hours and is now in bed awaiting my arrival. Sigh. I know God has called me to walk this foster journey, and I know he promises to equip the called, but today this single foster mama is feeling anything but equipped. Thank you for sharing these words of encouragement. Thank you more than you will ever know. Might I repost it on my own blog for future encouragement for myself and others?

    Like

    1. barrentoblessed

      Yes, of course, please repost it. Thank you for reading it, and I’m so glad it found you at the seemingly right time. I wrote it to encourage others. Fostering is so much more complicated than a lot of non-foster parents think. There are many dynamics and relationships to navigate. It can be quite exhausting! Thank you for what you do for children in need!

      Like

  7. Pingback: Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child | Blank

  8. Pingback: Dear Foster Momma of a Stranger’s Child | An Intentional Life

  9. Deanna

    I am humbly grateful for those with the patience and heart to take on another child (or in my case 4 of us) and try to teach them the right way of life. All the child knows is what they had been living, they don’t know that any other way exists until someone lets them come into their home and into their hearts and for the right reasons. In the 70’s, we went from 0 to 5 foster parents in a matter of a few years, being subjected to some things in those foster homes that I doubt we would have been with our real parents. The state tried to keep us all together, but it was overwhelming for the parents and eventually broke us up in 2’s. 3 of my foster families took us on for financial reasons and 2 of my foster homes were literally blessings from God. Choosing to foster is a huge choice, I am sure things have changed a lot in 40 years and through all the good, bad and ugly, I do believe I am a better person because of those 6.5 years in homes. It isn’t just choosing to open your home – it’s the choice to open your hearts and choose to take the risk. In my case, the risk was that my parents were trying to meet standards to have us return home. The one thing that foster parents can never closely compare to is the words I repeated for years. They aren’t my parents, no matter how hard they tried, that feeling could never be replaced and if and when the time came, I would always choose home. Thank You and God Bless.

    Like

  10. 5Kids 6Months

    This is such a beautiful post with so much emotional truth! I could have used this almost 2 years ago when I was a brand new mom (and brand new foster mom) struggling with 5 hurting foster children. This post brought back so many memories of those earlier days of tears and defeat, yet in that intense exhaustion I found the strength and encouragement I could only find in the Lord. Thank you for this post! I sent it on to another new and struggling foster mama!

    Like

  11. raychrisdejazzd

    Great post, I’m not a foster mom, but I edit a small newsletter for foster and adoptive families who do not have the internet (for the most part) I would love to re-print this in the newsletter. I saw you gave permission to others to re-post, would it be OK if I share it in this way?

    Like

  12. Jen G

    I have read this blog multiple times over the past week. I actually printed a copy and hung on the wall in my office at work. When I start to have doubts or wander if we made the right choice, I read this and it gives me reassurance. If I would have sat down and tried to express how I have felt over the past week, this would have been exactly what I would want to say. This is a million times hard and more rewarding then I ever imagined. I am learning to step back, enjoy the small victories and take it one minute at a time.

    Like

  13. Genevieve

    I have tears streaming down my face while reading this. You have explained exactly how I feel much of the time. We adopted our precious boy from the foster care system when he was 12. He is amazing, beautiful and smart with a good heart, but a world of hurt that he is still contending with. He has made incredible progress, but I would give my right arm to be able to make all the hurt and pain he had to endure magically go away. Thanks.

    Like

  14. Teresa

    Caroline, first off let me say God bless you for what you do. I am a volunteer for C.A.S.A. and I would like to give a foster mom I am working with a copy of this post. I would also like to see if my supervisor would like to put it in a newsletter. I would like your permission to use your post. Thank you!

    Like

  15. Melissa

    Thank you for this! The best thing I have ever heard out of my foster children’s mouths, the one thing that makes me feel like “Okay, I am doing something right in this” is that when they grow up, they want to be a foster parent. There is no greater thank you than this. These children are amazing and it is such a blessing to be their (Foster) Momma!

    Like

  16. Catalina Minichino

    i am in love with what you do and hope and pray every day that God open my husband’s heart and lets him see that this is something that I long for. This journey of faith and love and devotion. thank you for such wonderful and inspiring words
    !

    Like

  17. Kasie

    Thank you so much for saying what I have felt all these years. We have adopted 3 children from the foster care system and God just saw fit 5 years later to drop another one right into our laps that we brought home the day after she was born! It is impossible to honestly explain the emotional, psychological, physical, & spiritual battles that we must fight almost daily. We have one biological son who’s life was turned upside down when he was 7 and we added 3 siblings to him within a year’s time. Everything we thought we knew about parenting has failed us miserably and we have had to learn to trust the “gaps” to our Heavenly Father to fill in. If ever there was a mother who struggled with inadequacy I am certain I am she. But His strength is made perfect in my weakness! Just signed up to follow your blog.

    Like

  18. Wendy

    Thank you for the reminder that we are making a difference by fostering! God clearly called my husband and I to this, so I know in my heart that He is working good things through it. I sometimes forget that though as I’m pushing through the daily challenges that come with kids who are wrecked emotionally. You have blessed me today!

    Like

  19. Diana

    WOW, I am a foster mom and sometimes I feel the system fails the children. It is so frustrating. We have a rough battle ahead with the 2 we have now and we have been wondering if we should even try to fight. It is like a no win situation. Sometimes we wonder if we are doing the right thing. We are asking God for guidance. Amen!!!!

    Like

  20. Julie

    this is wonderful. someone asked me just yesterday, ‘what is the best thing about fostering’. what a difficult question. my answer was this, ‘the best thing is the spiritual, magical way that i can completely love another person’s child; having adopted (and birthed), i know they are different. adoption/birth comes with assurance and permanency and legality. fostering has none of those things, yet my heart doesn’t know the difference.’ they then asked about the hardest part of fostering…the grief. overwhelming loss and grief for me. we have fostered for about 8 years and i feel my heart is shattered all across our city…overwhelming to me at times.

    Like

  21. Wayne

    This is a wonderful post, albeit one sided. I’m sorry, my lovely wife and I have been foster parents for just over 11 years now. When we began this roller coaster ride, I had already retired from the USAF and she was still working as a paralegal. Given our situation, most of the foster care issues were my responsibility. There are plenty of foster fathers out here that go thru a lot of the emotions you described in your blog. The only difference is that we, or most of us, aren’t real good at communicating them.

    We have discovered that, in doing this for so long, that we have become kind of “hardened.” Because of the way most states are handling foster children now, i.e. making a kinship placement a top priority because they don’t have to reimburse kin, it is no longer “what is in the best interest of the child”, instead, it’s “what is in the best interest of the states budget.” We only take babies in our home. Most are going thru drug withdrawal, with the budget cuts to the Medicaid program, it is becoming extremely difficult to get the medical tests and treatments that these little people so desperately need.

    One last thing and I’ll put my soap box away. To expand on what Kristina posted before, when we hear “I could never do that” it is usually followed by “How do you let them go?” I can only say that if you don’t have trouble letting them go, you haven’t opened your heart and loved that child.

    Again, that was a wonderful post and thank you for allowing me to vent.

    Like

    1. Amie

      Wayne, my husband has also been very hands on but I am a stay at home mom. Thank you for putting in your soap box! More so, thank you for what you said about letting them go. We have had 24 babies in 7 years, adopting 5 of them. I used to get so angry when people would spout off about how they could never give a baby back. I felt like they were belittling our hearts, and accusing us of doing it for selfish reasons. The truth is, I can recall every heartache, every tear spilled by me and my other kids, each hour of feeling lost and empty, when we have had to relinquish a little one.

      We are beyond blessed and have a great relationship with some of the families but fostering is not for the weak and weary for certain. But then, neither is watching a newborn suffer through withdrawal…

      As to the original blog, thank you barrentoblessed! I have no doubt it will be an encouragement to many foster families.

      Like

  22. Brenda

    Powerful! Thanks, I work with many foster care families as a counselor to their sweet children! this is so true? These families are the true heros of today!!!!

    Like

  23. Erin Willis

    I would like to share this post from your blog at a couple of foster parent trainings that I will be speaking at in the next few weeks, if this is okay with you? I am a foster (soon to adopt) parent of 2 years with a bio son as well. We foster special needs children. Please feel free to email me. Thank you so much!

    Like

  24. Susan Osborn

    Someone posted this in our local foster care association site and I really needed it today. We have adopted one child out of the fc system (celebrated her “gotchya” day anniversary yesterday), we have a 13 yoa fd in our home and are working to adopt two brothers (ages 12 & 6). We had a rough few days last week but we stuck to our decision to foster, prayed and moved forward. This week, there’s a whole new attitude at home. 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement. Be blessed.

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  25. Shirlee Imes

    Our family started fostering 18 years ago. It was a decision we all made together. What can we do as a family to make a difference in our community? We had 3 birth children, ages 9, 12 and 15. We knew this would have a BIG impact on our whole family. We have fostered from ages 4 days to 17 years, and from 1 day to forever. We did short term, long term and respite for other Foster Families. We also did medically fragile and special needs. At times it was heart breaking, exhilarating, dramatic, encouraging, frustrating, rewarding and discouraging…..all rolled together. We adopted 7 over the past 12 years that had no place to go. Two have left the nest and are productive members of society. We still have 5 at home…all teenagers. Two are special needs. Is it hard at times? Absolutely! Would I do it again if I could? In a heart beat! We have come to the time in our lives that we must pass the baton to the next generation. When the 4 youngest turn 21 we will be 65. Our nest will never be empty due to our 2 special needs kids. We will care for them as long as we are physically able to do so.

    I want to encourage all of you to ‘Keep on keeping on.’ Each child comes to us wounded, whether you can see their wounds or not, they are there. What should they call us? We are THE MOM and THE DAD in our house. We are NOT there to take the place of any parent. When you are in our home as far as anyone else is concerned, you are one of the family. It’s no ones business whether you are foster or not. We treat everyone with the same rules and considerations. No one, biological or foster, gets special privileges. We are a FAMILY. We work together.

    Our home is our Mission Field. I am honored to answer God’s call to minister to these precious souls that He has seen fit to place in our care. We can do this. You can do this. “As much as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.” I challenge you to move out of your comfort zones and let God lead you to be His hands, feet and heart for these kids.

    Thank you for letting me share. God bless………..

    Like

  26. Melissa

    I cannot thank you enough for this! It was EXACTLY what I needed to hear today…and tomorrow. I’m thinking I’ll just print it and put it on my fridge. 🙂 Thank you!

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  27. amber

    I am one of those…one that always said, ” I could never do that.” Even now as I write this , I stand in sheer wonder at the God who loves us so deeply, that He might choose me, the one with doubt to temporarily love His little ones. Technically, I am not a foster mom. I am a missionary obeying the call in my life to serve the beautiful people of Haiti.My role here was to coordinate and host mission teams while here in country…along the way God has given my small family 8 little ones to care for…one of which we loved desperately, knowing she would be going to her forever family. This sweet one we had for close to two years…in that time God showed me that “I could do this”…I could give all of me away to a child knowing she would not be my own…I could love her with an everlasting unconditional love, I could be a part of His plan for her life, I could take in an abandoned child and be the arms they crawl into at night, I could be the one He uses to comfort their brokeness…thank you for sharing this…my eyes are wide open…to all of you mamas…thank you for unselfishly loving the least of these!.love, amber

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  28. Xylina hallmark

    My foster care worker came across this & sent it to me & I can’t seem to quit crying… Being a foster parent is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done & with the little one I have now it has been truly an emotional journey.
    Thank you for this. It is comforting

    Like

  29. Steffani Mydland

    Soooo needed this today! Thank you for reminding me that God’s strength is best seen in our weaknesses. We just had our one year fostering anniversary. Looking back at all the children we’ve already been blessed to care for, this has been the most emotional year of my life! But, I wouldn’t change a thing! Thank you for the encouragement!!

    Like

  30. Pingback: Foster Care: Not for the faint of heart | Kyle and Liz Ford

  31. Joyce Walter

    So beautifully written !!! We were Foster parents for 7 years and adopted the last two. I can identify with everything you said. It’s not for the fainthearted… yet how often I have felt too weak for the task ! I have often had to remind myself that Jesus said, “As you have done to the least of these, you have done unto me”.

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  32. Karen Brown

    Thank you for this well written post. It is like you read my heart. I have been a single foster parent for the past 5 1/2 years and it has been the hardest and best thing I have every done. My extended family and friends have been very supportive but it is still my responsibility. God bless you.

    Like

  33. Kitty

    I needed this today more than the person who sent me the link could have possibly known. We found our foster daughter last night getting ready to attempt suicide. Today she’s in the hospital in a psych ward (again), and we don’t know if she’ll ever get to come back to live with us. Today I am a broken-hearted warrior. God blessed your words, and I’m so thankful for this today.

    Like

  34. Amy Lopez

    Hi, your blog “letter #2 parent of a sick child” was sent to me by a friend on FB today. As I learn more about you and read on I feel the need to share. My story is long and has been going on for 2 years. My husband and I have a 2 year old son who we are in the process of adopting but have had to wait since the placement of his older sister who just tut

    Like

  35. Pingback: Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child {letter #3} | barrentoblessed

  36. daisyj4jc

    Thank you for writing this!! I am a new foster Momma and we have had our first foster daughter for almost 4 weeks now. We (me, my husband, and my two children) are all weary with the adjustments that we (including our foster child) are going through. I needed to hear this today.

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    1. barrentoblessed

      You are welcome. Thank you and your family for following the call to care for children. Fostering is an extremely refining journey. It can be difficult, and will break your hearts at times, but it is also the best investment in a little one’s life (by little one, I mean any age) you will ever make. God bless!

      Like

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