For eight years, I dreamed of the day I would become a foster parent.
I knew the stories of agency workers, foster parents, biological parents, youth aging out, and children in foster care. I met and interacted with individuals in each of these roles through my work with The Forgotten Initiative. I couldn’t wait for the moment that I could jump into the front lines of this broken system and make an impact as a foster parent.
And, I know this sounds super weird, but my excitement for jumping in had less to do with the children in foster care and more to do with their parents. Sure, caring for cute kiddos was a huge perk of this role, but my heart was for biological parents. This is where my excitement came from. I was ready to build a relationship with the parents of my future children.
When I began serving as a foster parent, I painted a picture of what I expected my fostering experience to be. After all, I knew what this foster care world was all about as I had already interacted with it in the past.
When I received my first placement, my heart ached for her mama. Oh, how her arms must be aching, missing her baby girl! I wasn’t able to meet Mom right away, but once I did, I had high hopes of a great relationship. I so desired to share Jesus with her and to let her know I was in her corner. I wanted to show her she was and is worthy of being loved.
Now comes the part where God reminded me that this is actually going to be hard. Building a relationship is not easy. We’re two people who have collided because of circumstances that neither of us wants. We’re trying to both parent. We bring our histories, our ideas, and our desires to the table.
My picture perfect expectations aren’t panning out to be perfect.
Y’all, this relationship has not gone as planned—just like most things in foster care. It’s taken much longer to build a relationship with Mom that I expected. I’ve told her I’m rooting for her. I’m in her corner. And I truly am, but it comes with a mix of emotions that I didn’t quite expect. Here’s the thing, we make progress in growing our relationship. We build trust. Then, we backslide. We are working through grief and the understanding that the other mama is not the enemy. It’s difficult for both of us. We both love this little girl with everything in us and are giving up something by being in the situation we are in.
I thought it would be easier to be champions for one another. After all, we are united in wanting to love our little girl. But, it isn’t a perfect relationship as much as I want it to be. It isn’t all her fault, and it isn’t all my fault. We are two imperfect people trying to navigate an imperfect relationship. We both have to battle against our wrong emotions that creep…or slam…into our thoughts. This isn’t normal. This relationship isn’t comfortable for either of us.
This. Is. Hard.
I care about this mama. I champion her, and I want the best for her despite when my feelings wax and wane. I’m learning that it’s not my role to control her thoughts and emotions. It’s not my role to make her like me. It’s not my role to make sure this relationship is perfect. It’s not going to be. It is my job to open my arms to the Lord. It is my job to continue following hard after him and surrendering my plans to his better plans. He is in control of this whole situation, including our relationship. I am not perfect, but my God is. I need to remember that.
Throughout this entire experience, I have struggled with lies from the enemy, as well as crazy amounts of contradicting feelings and emotions at all turns of this foster parenting thing. I want to be more like Christ, and yet, I fail. I need Him to hold me up. I need Him to guide me. I need Him.
I’m choosing to focus on truth and God’s promises.
My friends, we are in God’s very capable hands!
Jillian has a passion for reaching out and loving others. She began serving with TFI in college after learning more about the foster care community. Jillian is passionate about seeing the Church mobilized to serve and step into the lives of those affected by foster care. As a new foster mom, she is currently relying on donuts, coffee, and JESUS!
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