Don’t feel guilty about needing a break.
We really needed a break from active foster parenting. After three years, we were wiped out. We fostered four children through a pandemic, home schooling three of them, while I was pregnant with my first biological child. That’s not to say that we’re heroic. Many others did much more in those “unprecedented times.” Nonetheless, we were wiped out.
We decided to take a sabbatical once our son was born until he was around six months old. Those months flew by. I was surprised that I wasn’t quite itching to jump back into fostering the way I thought I would be. I knew the need was great. I knew we had space to offer. But honestly, I didn’t have the energy or capacity to offer kids what I knew they needed when they entered foster care. Once our son reached eight months, we took emergency and respite placements for about six months.
Slowly, I began to feel ready for more. I had more energy once our son was finally sleeping through the night. I had more time, attention, and capacity. But something was still holding me back. I was so much more anxious to start fostering again than I had been originally. I think I just knew how difficult it could be, and I wondered if it could be even harder than it was before now that we have our young toddler in the house.
I felt guilty for enjoying our sabbatical “too much.” For enjoying the ease and pace of life with only one child. For not wanting to invite the chaos and confusion of case managers, court, visitation, trauma. But thankfully other foster mama friends didn’t judge me. In fact, they assured me that what I felt was normal.
Prioritizing self-care and family-care is not selfish. We need a break sometimes to recharge, to refresh, to really be able to offer our best to others.
Making sure you’re ready for what foster care requires of you is not selfish, it’s smart.
We went back on the open bed list last month, telling the state we were ready to foster long-term again. We had a very wide age range, and I found myself anxious for what that first call from the placement office might hold. What that first “yes” might look like and what it might mean for our family for the foreseeable future.
Then the call came. It was something I wasn’t expecting. Something I was sure that my husband would say “no” to right away.
But he didn’t. We talked through it. We both felt peace about it, which defied logic.
We listened to concerns, hesitations and questions from others about what this potential new “yes” might look like. We shared many of the same questions.
We considered the support system we had built over the years. The resources and service array we had connections to in our community – built over years of searching and asking. We considered our home, our flexibility, and searched our hearts for room for this new “yes.” With some things still unknown we said “yes” to something new.
And the adventure, again, begins.