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Episode 136: Foster Care 101: Becoming a Middle Family

By January 10, 2022January 3rd, 2023Podcast

If you’ve been looking for a resource to send to someone who is considering foster care or who doesn’t fully understand what foster care is, today’s episode is for you!

Welcome to Season 12 of The Forgotten Podcast. To kick it off, I have a helpful conversation with Emily Smithhart, an incredible woman who is a biological and foster mom, as well as a TFI Advocate in Sacramento County, CA. In addition to hearing her story and experiences fostering, we’re breaking down what it looks like to get involved with foster care! You’ll hear Emily share about adjusting expectations, how to get started, navigating placement calls, learning to root for reunification, and more. This is one you don’t want to miss!

(If you’re currently considering foster care, this episode is an especially great place to start.)


1. The primary goal of doing foster care is to be a “middle family.”

The term “middle family” is really helpful, and is actually one that was new to us. The motivation for getting involved in foster care shouldn’t be about adding a child to our family forever; it should be an opportunity to be a safe place while we root for the reunification of that family whenever possible. Like Emily shared, “The initial goal of foster care is never adoption.” Though it can lead there, we can sabotage the reunification process if we aren’t careful about our perspectives or motivations.

“I started foster care because of the children. The reason I continue to foster is because of their families.”

2. The journey of foster care is one of flexibility and adjusted expectations.

From receiving a placement of twins that were a year younger than they were told to a “3-month placement” being moved the next day, Emily has so many stories of adjusting expectations. But her word picture of the journey being like a roller coaster is spot-on, especially the idea of staying buckled in along the journey through our identity in Christ. That’s how we can stay grounded.

“One of the hardest parts of foster is the constantly shifting of your expectations.”

3. It takes time for everyone to transition during a new placement.

This is normal! At the beginning of a new placement, it’s common to feel overwhelmed (for you and for the children placed in your home) as you’re navigating new behaviors, adjusting your routines, and getting comfortable with new dynamics. That feeling of craziness and overwhelm is not the new normal you’ve signed up for. There will be moments like that in the future, but you’ll settle in with time.

“Those first few weeks are not your new normal.” 

4. Jesus is walking this journey with you.

In this conversation, Emily shares the reality that walking this journey really is possible because of Jesus. His strength and peace is what helps us keep going in the seasons of grief, pain, frustration, or confusion. In your own foster care journey, are you leaning on Him?

“Walking through the grief of unbecoming their mom has been so hard.” 


We hope this episode has helped you wherever you are on your foster care journey. That’s the goal! If so, will you tell others?

Share this post or rate the podcast on Apple Podcasts (or wherever you listen) and leave us a brief review

Meet Our Guest

Emily is a biological and foster mama who lives in Northern California with her husband, Bennett. She also is a new TFI Advocate in Sacramento County, CA while pursuing her masters in Child/Youth/Family Ministry. Emily is passionate about serving the local church as well as the foster care community.

Foster Parents, check with your agency to see if listening to this podcast will count toward your foster care training hours!

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