The Heartbreak of Being a Foster Parent: When Your Foster Child Moves Out
Just over 8 months ago, an 11-year-old girl with curly brown hair, almond eyes, and an electric smile entered our home for the first time.
Amy and I were filled with nervous excitement as “Mini” (her nickname) was our first placement. We had been holding out for a baby, but due to the long wait, we decided to go ahead and provide another child with a safe, loving home.
Mini is very attached to her mom and brothers and being in foster care was the last place she wanted to be. This was very understandable for us. I can’t imagine being removed from my family and home at that age. Just pause for 30 seconds and really let that sink in.
Soon enough, our lives began to feel like we were stuck on a roller coaster ride at Six Flags. Mini had days where all she wanted was a big hug and attention, then on other days she would get emotional, scream, and cry.
Here was this beautiful, creative, fun child that has a heart of gold. But already she has been through more than most adults I know. Her behaviors are partly the result of her trauma. And now, at 12, she still hasn’t learned the proper tools with dealing with her pain even with being in the care of 3 therapists.
There is one moment, out of many, that will stay in my heart forever. It was Father’s Day and inside the card she gave me she wrote, “Thank you for being the dad I never had.” Turn on the waterworks. I had tears streaming down my face as I gave her a big embrace. I just held her in my arms while realizing how huge this moment was in both of our lives.
When you have a foster kid, they become a part of your family. Amy and I both love her and care about her. In fact, we hope we can remain a part of her life.
But reality hits right now as she is in her bedroom next to my office and is packing up her belongings this very second. My heart is heavy. While I know this transition will be positive for her, I can’t help but feel a large loss.
I have so many racing thoughts. I’m already missing her morning and evening hugs, our never-ending Connect Four competition, and our talks about life and the lessons we learn along the way.
Our time together wasn’t always easy, but it was definitely worth it.
If you want to know more about our story with Mini and the foster care journey (from A-Z), then I suggest you dive into my article, The Meaning of Being a Foster Parent, that was published on Think Save Retire.
Just bring out the box of tissues because you’ll need it.