Defining Success And Failure As a Foster Parent
You don't have to be perfect parents to be perfect foster parents. Inherent in the role is the pressure to be amazing because "you are doing something amazing" (what others may have said to you) - an expectation no human can live up to, nor should ever have to.
Foster parents are not saints or heroes or spiritual rock stars. We are humans. Real moms and dads that struggle, stumble and mess up. We get annoyed, frustrated and exhausted. We don't have all the answers and don't even know the right questions to ask most of the time.
GIVE YOURSELF SOME GRACE
Give yourself some grace. Cut yourself some slack. Your job is not to be the savior of these kids, it's simply to love these kids as your Savior has loved you. Fully. Sacrificially. Painstakingly. Honestly. God didn't call you to this because he thought you could handle it. He called you to it to show that through you, He is handling it. He is using you, a mere human, to help solve a seemingly insurmountable human problem. Confusion, frustration and exhaustion are inevitable and unavoidable - but He is faithful and good and right there with you, even when you're not sure you can handle any more of this.
The reason you are caring for these kids is because somewhere along the line someone has failed them. This is the context in which we are called to show up and love. The fact that you are doing that is evidence that you are unwilling for them to be failed again. You'll go to great lengths to protect them from that. Yet even so, God doesn’t expect us to fix them or save them or help them pretend like nothing tragic has ever happened in their lives. He simply asks us to show up and love. That love will be costly and difficult at times. It will stretch you and break you. It will also fill you and strengthen you and drive you. The call is to love like Him because we have first been loved by Him – and to trust Him with the rest. Failure in foster care is not when we fail to love a child perfectly but when we fail to show up and love a child at all. Period. By nature of you doing that you are not failing, you are succeeding, no matter how hard or difficult it may be at times.
The good news is that Jesus does not call you to control everything in the foster care process, nor does He expect you to. He actually wants you to be okay with the fact that you can't. Your "success" as a foster parent is not measured by your capacity to keep everything in order; it's determined by your ability to trust that even in the chaos Jesus is beautiful - and even in the mess, so is what you are doing for these kids.
BEAUTY IN THE BROKENNESS
This is foster care – interceding into dark stories in order to bring light into them. It’s advocating the cause of the helpless, seeking justice for the defenseless and maintaining the rights of the oppressed. This is exactly what Jesus has done for us. We, therefore, are compelled to do the same for them.
What you are doing is beautiful, not in spite of the brokenness that surrounds it but because of it. It’s always upon the backdrop of darkness that light shines the brightest. Know that if it’s for just a few days or for an entire lifetime, you've been given the unique opportunity to offer a child something very, very beautiful in the midst of their brokenness - love. Jesus is clear on many occasions that, by far, this is the most important thing we can do with our lives. Love. Why? It's the most beautiful expression of who He is.
At the end of our days we’ll measure the success of our years not by the places we went or the things we created but in the people we loved and the lives we changed. Foster care is nothing if not the opportunity to successfully spend your life to that end.