For as long as I can remember, I dreamed of having a great career I was passionate about. I envisioned myself in a sleek pencil skirt in a fancy office overlooking a big city. I imagined that every day I would go to work with a creative team of brilliant people that made big decisions that would change the world for the better. I worked hard in college and went on to graduate school to achieve those dreams. I bought into the hustle and I loved it.
I worked hard doing work I loved and developing my professional skills for years. I felt completely engaged in the work, but not completely fulfilled. Life changed as I got married and settled down in a small town with my husband and our dog, Rosie. We bought a house with a yard that happened to have a playset that couldn’t be removed. As we explored ways to connect with our community and give back, we started to consider foster care.
Fast forward to today- we’ve been fostering for over a year and half and it’s an amazing addition to our lives. The playset we once thought about removing is now utilized every afternoon by children laughing wholeheartedly.
At first, I wasn’t sure we could foster since we both worked full-time and we didn’t necessarily have super flexible schedules. We both had a 35 minute commute, we sometimes worked late nights or on weekends, I had to be on call a few weekends a year. But as we looked into it, we realized that a lot of foster families had two working parents. When we dove and began fostering, we had to find our own work-life balance. While there is no one right answer for all families, these are some of the things we’ve learned.
It’s not easy keeping tiny humans alive and thriving. Add in a full-time career, the unique challenges children in foster care face, and the added responsibilities and appointments foster care requires, and you’ve certainly got a full plate. A supportive employer can certainly make a huge difference. I will never forget the pain I felt when a superior at work told me, not once but three times, that I “should have never accepted that placement.” She didn’t understand that even though I was experiencing some challenges in the beginning of a new placement, I already felt completely connected to the children in my home. I felt protective of them and hurt that someone would be so bold as to tell me that I should just “get rid of them.”
Here are some of the challenges that full-time working foster parents express:
But despite the challenges, I believe that I am a better parent because I work full-time. I love working! I love using my strengths and skills and my education to make a difference. I am so in awe of stay-at-home parents, but I don’t think that I’m cut out for it myself. I’ve adjusted some of my work schedule over the last year and a half to better accommodate the 2-4 foster children in our home at any given time, but I can’t imagine not working. I am able to give my children so much more of my full self when I pick them up in the evenings from daycare. I am able to actually enjoy my weekends focusing 100% on the children and our family.
Here is what others say about their favorite parts of being a working foster parent:
My biggest tip for full-time working couples or singles who want to foster would be to ask your agency directly, “How is fostering possible for working parents?” They will tell you how they’ve seen others thrive and what support they can offer you. But at the end of the day, if I can do this so can you! #FosterFamiliesNeeded