Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Letter

Dear Foster Parent,

I am the child in your home. I am the child who says and does things that melt your heart in one moment, but, I am also the child who amazes you with the ways I “act out” in the very next moment.   I am the kid who arrived at your door with only the emotional baggage I carry on the inside and the trash bag, in my hand, holding a few key items. I am the teenager who makes decisions you don’t understand, says things that hurt, and has an attitude beyond measure.  I am the young person you drive all over to take me to my countless appointments that fill your calendar each week. I am the child who requires extra supervision and who can’t be left with just anyone.  I am the kid who struggles to trust adults and who doesn't play well with others, unless they’re bad for me.  I am the kid who makes the principal call you so much and the one the teacher emails about every other day.  I am the child, the kid, the teenager who breaks your heart and takes you on this emotional roller coaster ride.

I am also the child you were told would come when you took those classes.  I am the kid who was left to fend for myself, who wasn't kept clean, fed and sheltered the way I should have been. I am the one who got sick and didn't have a doctor to give me medicine. I am the one who learned how to mix a drink. I am the one who saw my mom get beaten up. I am the one who was someone else’s punching bag. I’m the kid someone else touched in a bad way – over and over again. I am the child who took care of my little brothers and sisters. I am the child who tried my best to be good, but just couldn't keep my parents happy. I am the one who was born addicted to something. I am the one who watched my dad get arrested. I am the one who doesn't know my dad and hasn't seen my mom in months.  I am the one who has lived with each of my relatives, and heard each of them say they didn't want me, either.  

I am the child you were told would come when you took those classes. 

I am the child who was taken away from all that I knew by strangers.  I am the one who has lost everything I thought made me who I am.  I am the one who hears that where I come from isn't good enough.  I am the one who hears people talk about my “best interest”, but I’m also the one who hears about everything after the decision has already been made.  I am the one everyone writes things about, but I never get to see it.  I am the one you all have meetings about.  I am the one waiting to see what direction my life will take.  I am the one who had to leave all my stuff at home.  I am the one who had to leave all my friends and my teachers. I am the one everyone talks about. I am the one that everyone tells me matters most.  I am the one everyone says they’re trying to help.   I am the one who has to move.  I am the one who has to leave and lose everything when things change.  I am the one who isn't allowed to be myself.  I am the one who has to change everything I know, everything I know to be, and everything I know to do.  I am the one who has to do the most work and I’m the one who has to live under the weight of all of this…yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

I am the one who will carry this load with me for the rest of my life.  I am the one this story is being written about and I am the only one who will be in the story from the first page to the last.  Others will come and go and the characters will change, but it is my story.  I am the main character. 

Everything that happens along the way will impact and change me, in some way.  It is my story.

So, I want to ask you something.  Why did you become a foster parent?  Why did you take all those classes and jump through all those hoops? 

My guess is that you “wanted to make a difference” or that you “had extra love to give” and you “knew there were kids out there who needed good homes”.  I know your intentions were good and your motivations were incredible and admirable.  I imagine you sat in those classes with a broken heart and a renewed conviction that this was exactly what you were supposed to do.

So, what happened? 

Did my load get too heavy for you to carry?  Did I do something that made you lose hope?  Did I say something that hurt your feelings or caused you to question yourself?  Did I make you feel like you weren't good enough?  Did I misbehave or get angry at you and break something?  Did I forget to be good or to handle myself in the right way?  Did I forget to carry my emotional baggage on the inside? 

What happened to make you want to give up on me?

You see, I really want to know because I don’t want my next home to give up on me.  I try to so hard to be the person that you want me to be.  I try to be good and act the right way and to control my feelings.  I try to say the right things and do everything that everyone tells me to do.  I try to be the “good kid” everyone says they know I can be.  I try to make good choices all the time.  I try.

Sometimes, though, I just can’t do it.  It’s like some switch in me flips and this other side of me takes over. The side that crumbles under the weight of the load I carry.  It’s like my legs and arms (and heart) get weak and I fall.  I stumble. I make mistakes. I fail.  I don’t know what happens to cause this and it all happens so fast.  You say, sometimes, I choose to do this or that…but I, honestly, don’t remember making that choice…it happens so fast.   I don’t mean to hurt you, or those you really love, and I don’t mean to make you scared or worried.  I really don’t.

Other times, and it’s hard for me to admit this to you, I do choose to fight – and to fight hard. I choose to fight back and I allow my anger, hurt, sadness, and pain at all of the twists and turns in my story to get to me.

And, I’ll tell you why I choose to fight hard.

Its way easier for me to hate you than to let you love me, even though I know you’re trying.  I have lost so much already.  I have heard so many people say they don’t want me, they give up, and that who I am isn't good enough that I’m tired of hearing it.  It’s easier for me to push you away than it is for me to let you in, because the pain of you giving up, too, would be too big a blow.  I’ve had so much pain in my life already.  I really don’t want to feel that anymore because I really don’t know how much more I can take. 

Remember, I am the main character of this story and I am the one who will live in this story from start to finish.  I am the child they told you would come.  I have the potential to change – in time. It took a lot of time for me to become this person you see. It will probably take a little longer for me to be the person you say you need me to be - the person you say you believe I can be.  It will take a lot more work. 

I’ll take that challenge but I’ll need help.  I need people who won’t give up on me. I need people who won’t blame me.  I need people who can be patient with me.  I need people to understand that I don’t always choose the things I do.  I need people who are committed to being a part of my story.  I need people to listen to me – what I say and to what I say with my behavior.  I need people who can forgive me.  I need people who can remember none of this was my fault.   I need people who will refuse to allow their frustration to outweigh their love for me.  I need people who will believe that my story can end well.

I want you to know I love you and I am grateful for all that you do, even if I don’t know how to say it. 

I need you.

I am the one who needs YOU.


Your Foster Child


  1. I needed to read this today :]

  2. I needed to read this

  3. I think everyone needs this. It is wonderful. Thank you. :)

  4. Beautiful, makes want cry and keep on trying!!!

  5. Powerfull words that touch the heart and mind

  6. Beautifully written.
    What a wonderful reminder of why we became foster carers and an inspiration to stay strong for the children with the massive burdens that need more from us than we sometimes think we have the strength to give.

  7. Sharing with my PATH class tomorrow!!

  8. I think a lot of childrens social workers need to read this as when things do go wrong and placements breakdown it is not always the foster carers that are to blame.

  9. I am the Foster Carer that fights for you to be allowed to stay permanently with me and my family, who want to commit to you and go on your journey beside you, I am the Foster Carer that has agreed to limit my placements to just you because your behaviour is "difficult", I am the Foster Carer that helped you to be more socially acceptable and will see you through the therapy and out the other side, I am the Foster Carer that you call Mum, I am the Agency Foster Carer who has been told as soon as you are healed ,they will be looking to separate us, because its cheaper for them to put you with Local Authority Carers, you will be heartbroken and I will be devastated because I truly cared, I can only hope that you will survive.

  10. A must read, it puts the foster caregiver their proper prospective on their exact role & title in the whole scheme of our own story. We need to love, hang on with all we have, & forsake the whole notion to give up or give in on these children, after all they have no ability to entertain these ideas, so should we? Thank you for sharing & having me take the time to look back inside, far past....classes.

  11. I think that all foster parents go through moments of doubt, where we question ourselves and our abilities to cope. My wife and I are in our early 50's with three grown sons. We both felt led, by God, to bring children into our home. In our case, we chose foster-to-adopt. With all the children needing homes, how do you choose? We asked God to give us the children that He intended for us to have. We have two girls, ages 9 and 12. One day, we both felt overwhelmed and so ready to toss our hands up and give up. We had relatives, friends, and even church members asking "why?" I told my wife "let's pray and sleep on it." In the morning, I woke, and had my answer. I've never been more sure of anything in my life. I asked my wife three questions. 1) Did we not pray and feel that God wanted us to adopt children? (Yes). 2) Did we not pray that He would give us the children that He intended for us to have? (Yes). 3) Has God changed His mind? (Never). We went through with the adoption. One of our daughters recently broke her fourth pair of eyeglasses (intentionally), because she was mad. Life is still challenging, but everyday is a little better. If we look back at when they first arrived, about 14 months ago, we can see that they have come incredibly far. I don't know what God has in our future, but I do know that we are in His plan. If God is with us, who can be against us?

  12. YOU, and all the others like YOU, are the reason I created the free online, self-paced course, Succeed Because Of What You've Been Through. And it's why I created the YOUR REAL SUCCESS program, because you just need someone to find the good in you, magnify it, help you monetize it, and enjoy the amazing life that comes from finding and fulfilling the good plan for YOU.

  13. Thank you for this letter. I'm a foster mum from Latvia. When I started to do it, I had a good motivation, but although I had worked in this sphere before consulting others (I'm a social worker), actually I didn't really know anything about this. I made many mistakes. There were periods I felt myself helpless and desperate, I wanted to give up, but I didn't and never lost hope for their future. I'm lucky to have my three fosterchildren who forgive my mistakes.Only after 4,5 years together with them I have come to the end of the letter where the child says what foster parent he/she needs.We have grown all together and learned from each other. I'm very thankful to them for each lesson they have given to me and I feel them answering with trust and love even sometimes it doesn't look like that. .