Entering the Season of Leaving: When Foster Parents say Goodbye

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“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” -Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Our days are numbered as our time with one of our foster teens is nearing the end. She has been in our home for over 6 months and sadly, she will soon be leaving. This is not our first time saying goodbye to a foster kid. It’s actually our sixth time saying goodbye.  But this time may be one of the hardest.

This dear girl came to us with amazing behavior but a lot of baggage. Ironically, I saw her in a dream about 4 months before I ever knew she existed. I still remember the day she got out of the car and I saw her through the window. My heart dropped because that was the same girl I had a dream about. I didn’t know what our relationship would be like but I knew it would be special.

Over the last 6 months, Steven and I have had the chance to show her love, teach her about God and watch her grow. She is not the same girl who came to live with us months ago. She has a happy facade now. Even though she is still struggling in some areas she has learned a lot. She even gave her life to Christ and got Baptized while here. I would like to say we can take credit, but it was a group of people who really showed her what life can be like when you have God.

Fostering is hard, especially when you have to say goodbye to kids who have impacted your life. She has become like a daughter of mine and it’s hard to see her leave. But I also have a peace about it. I feel ready to let her go because as a temporary mom — I feel like she is ready. We have taught her as much as we can while she was here. She has learned how to have God as her foundation — so I am proud to see what she will do as she gets older.

I have many people come up to us and say, “Oh, I couldn’t be a foster parent. I would get too attached. It would break my heart when they had to leave.” It’s funny because when people say that it’s as if they think we some how are NOT impacted by it. That we have a characteristic that allows us to say goodbye with ease. I am here to tell you we don’t. It hurts us all the same. But you know what, I don’t regret showing them love in the small amount of time they were in our home. Our home may be the only place they ever feel that love or are taught what a real family looks like. Why keep that from them? It will forever change their lives. Like our foster daughter — this experience has and will change the outcome of her future. Because we chose to love her and teach her about God.

As parents, we get 18 years with our kids. Yes, that’s a long time but your days are still numbered with them as well. We have a small time to make an impact and prepare them to leave. Yes, God calls every parent to prepare their children to leave their home. To teach them how to handle their own battles they will face as grownups. That’s why it is crucial to take every moment for granted. So really, fostering isn’t much different than parenting your own kids. You just get less time with them.

I am ready to see our girl enter her next journey. She will always have a seat at our table. She knows she is always welcome in our home. Even when she grows up to have a family of her own. I’m so thankful for the time God gave us with her. I pray that we really did make a big impact. That she will always remember us as a good memory in her life. Truth be told, foster kids need that so much. Many have childhoods filled with trauma and they need to see there is hope.

Even though it hurts to see her leave — it also opens ups another opportunity to love another teen girl who needs to hear she is worthy. I will always pray for all the girls we’ve had in our home and the ones yet to come.

I encourage you to open your home to kiddos who could use hope. Don’t be afraid of getting hurt because you have to see them leave so soon. Just love them and teach them as much as you can while they are with you. You never know how much their life may change.

When I Doubt, God Sends a Sweet Reminder

5 Ways to Introduce God to Foster Kids Without Being Pushy

Fostering Teens Who Are Surrounded By Weeds

 

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