When my parents told us they were training to become foster parents six years ago, not a single one of my sisters or I were surprised.
Our lives as part of the foster care system have been nothing short of a roller coaster. I have now had seven foster brothers pass through the doors of my parent’s house and leave a permanent stamp on my heart. Our family has laughed and cried more than we ever thought possible over this journey. Our eyes have been opened to a world we didn’t know existed and our hearts have experienced both love and grief we didn’t know imaginable. It has been a journey that has taught me so much.
Being a foster sister has made me a better mother and here’s why.
1. They were the first to show me unconditional love.
My biggest apprehension when our first set of foster brothers came to live with us was that I wouldn’t love them in the same way that I loved my bio sisters. I was afraid it would be different, but I was so, so wrong. I can wholeheartedly say that my love for all seven of those boys extends to the same great lengths that my love for my sisters does, even though five of them no longer live with us.
Being a foster sister gave me my first taste of the magnitude of unconditional love and how easy it is to have.
2. Their resiliency has given me hope for my son who is growing up without a father.
Coming from a “traditional” family with two parents who have been married for almost thirty-two years and knowing that my son would be raised without a father was terrifying to me. I leaned on both my parents equally growing up. I needed them both. Since the day I realized I would be parenting on my own, I have wrestled with the fear that I will not be enough for my son and that he would be lacking in some way because he came from a single-parent household.
When these fears start to creep in, I remind myself of all that my foster brothers have overcome and how incredible their lives still are. The resiliency of children is awe-inspiring. To see their faces *usually* full of pure joy despite all that they have been through brings me immeasurable hope and reminds me that my son will be just fine growing up without a father.
3. They have made me more aware.
I lived a pretty sheltered life growing up. My parents tried, and succeeded in many ways, to teach us about people of different races, backgrounds, cultures, etc., but when it came down to it, we lived in predominantly white, middle-class neighborhood and that’s all we knew firsthand. We heard about hardships that kid’s faced everyday on the television and in books, but that never touched our lives.
Being a foster sister opened my eyes to the world outside of my community or neighborhood and helped me to see past my privilege. It has taught me invaluable lessons that I will be able to pass on to my son.
My foster brothers have given me so much, far more than I have ever given them. Even though it is far from easy to love these tiny humans so desperately knowing they may only be with us for a short time, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Everyday they bring me more joy and laughter and make me a much better mom.