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One Question Every Foster Parent Should Ask

By November 9, 2020November 10th, 2020Blog

There are so many unknowns that come with stepping into foster care. As a foster parent, I’m learning—yes, still learning; ya’ll it’s a process—to keep walking forward amid unknowns. I can plan and do my part to help bring some level of stability to a life of unpredictability, but change inevitably comes at some point—sometimes often and sometimes less.

As I try to remain calm, my brain spins with a thousand and one questions about every. single. thing.

Why can’t we stick to the agreed-upon schedule?
Why wasn’t that communicated earlier?
Why is Mom making that decision?
Why is my child acting this way?
Why is the court system SO slow?
Why is there a policy about that?
Why is all of this so stinking hard?!


Oh, that is just the start of my why questions! And the thing is, there aren’t easy answers to most of my why questions. I am looking for a neat and tidy answer that will solve the problem, but the answer isn’t coming.

Friend, there is one question we can and should be asking ourselves. It’s the question that can change us and our perspective amid frustration.

Why did you step into foster care?

What is your motivator?

Are you still focused on that in the midst of your other why questions?

We can’t continue to let the long list of why questions run rampant in our brains and go unchecked. Sure, there are some we can follow up on. There are some we just need to release. We’ll drive ourselves crazy rehashing the list each day.

We can and should ask ourselves our big WHY.

It comes more naturally to ask the list of questions above, especially when hard things keep happening over and over. But I’m finding that they don’t help clear my thoughts or help me make better decisions. They leave me with more anger and uneasiness.

As I journey through foster parenting, especially the hard moments, I have to shift my thoughts back to my why. I need to be reminded of why I started doing this in the first place. I need to know my purpose in it.

Foster care is messy. It just is. There is no cleaned-up version of it. We are stepping into brokenness.

I want a pretty bow for each story—for things to be wrapped up nicely, but it often doesn’t happen that way. Those grand stories of amazing life change are a snapshot of the full picture. Yes, there is incredible beauty to be found, and in the beauty, there are often still moments where there just isn’t a bow. We miss the crazy, difficult parts of the story because we somehow zoom in on only the “success.”

It’s in the painful moments and the thousand and one why questions that come along with them that we have to really evaluate our measurement of success. Success does not mean that families are now walking out a perfect, sinless life. That was only something Jesus could do.

Success is measured in our faithfulness to display who Jesus is to those we interact with.

My list of why questions doesn’t help me experience Jesus or those around me experience Jesus unless I focus on the big WHY. Why did I step into foster care?

I stepped in because those in the foster care community—no matter if they’re in this community by choice (judges, agency workers, therapists, foster parents) or were unwillingly brought into this community (children and vulnerable parents)—deserve to experience the love of Jesus. That is why Jesus died on that cross—so ALL of us could experience new life.

So, ask yourself one question. Let the other questions go for a moment.

What is your why?

As you interact with your child’s agency worker, biological parent, therapist, judge, other family members, your child themselves, or whoever it may be today, remember that experiencing Jesus is the answer. We are on this journey together. Jesus loves you and this foster care community deeply. Lean into that.

Jillian Kellenberger

Jillian has a passion for building relationships and loving people well. She desires to see the Church mobilized to support and step into the lives of those affected by foster care. As a foster mom, she is currently relying on donuts, coffee, and JESUS!

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