Just a Foster Child
Never..."just a foster kid"
One Sunday, I walked up to the check in kiosk at my church with my typical 4, along with a set of sibling brothers that had joined our family. The 5 year old was listening to me check in everyone, and then I said, "and this is our friend Ben here with us."
He looked up at the check-in volunteer and added, "I'm just a foster kid."
My world stopped spinning. It was a great opportunity to take him over to the side hall, get down to his level, and look him in his precious brown eyes and say, "You are NOT just a foster child. You are loved, you are special, you are important to us, and you are our friend."
Sometimes foster kids really hate being a foster kid. You may mistakenly think that since their biological families could not raise them for a season that they are magically grateful for their new place with 3 meals and plenty snacks a day, a loving family, and a safe home for a time, but even if they are many just miss their families and their former lives that were their normal. They often begrudge the new label thrust upon them when they sure didn't do anything to change status from their family. At our training events, support groups, and fun date nights they can make new friends in foster care, and see they are not carrying that label alone. They see many other kids living in families that don't look like them and kids that are their siblings only for a season. I love to see them connect with each other and just have fun being kids in our healthy fostering community of fostering friends that treat each other like an extended family. One of our volunteers quipped at our last event, "I can't tell who is biological and who is a foster child!" I thought that was the best complement!
I've found that ages 5-8 are likely to vocalize that they don't like that new label on them, and I try to never say those words in front of them, but they know. If you are a teacher, a volunteer with us, or a church member around foster kids please call them friends or ask, "Who is your new friend?" If you are introducing them, don't tack on any labels. They are a valuable addition to our families.
If you want to make a child in foster care feel valued, join our team of volunteers or help us sponsor a foster child's birthday party this year!