Won’t my biological kids be affected by foster care?


I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked this question by well-meaning, concerned people who are wrestling with the thought of becoming foster parents. “Shouldn’t we wait until our kids are older?” “Won’t this have a negative affect on them?” “Won’t they pick up bad behavior, bad language, and just bad stuff in general from foster kids?”

Okay, so this question is a two-edged sword. On one point is the fact that kids who come into foster care have experienced trauma of some kind (through no fault of their own) or they wouldn’t be in foster care, and yes, that trauma could manifest itself in unsavory and unwelcome ways. But on the other point, is the fact that our biological children will never be the same once they have been intricately involved in the family foster care mission. In fact, it will shape who they become.

I know this because I am living it! When we began fostering over 17 years ago, we had three children: Chase-6, Caleb-3, and Cara-2. Connor was born a year and a half into the process. These precious ones are now 23, 20, 19 and 15 3/4 respectively. And let me tell you about them….

All four of them love kids. Last year our family did a television interview for a local tv station- the reporter asked Chase (who was newly engaged) if he and his fiance’ had talked about fostering. He said “yes, we’ll be foster parents at some point”. (That was the first we had heard of it!) Cara and I were talking a few weeks ago and she said “well of course, I’ll foster, Mom, it’s been my life, why wouldn’t I?” Connor has always said he would foster and adopt. Caleb was my only one that I thought might not foster or adopt- not because he doesn’t love kids, but because he is an independent guy with a love for foreign missions. He was at home the other day and I mentioned something about foster care in general…he said, “I don’t think I will foster, but I definitely think I will adopt!”

My kids growing up to carry on some foster care or adoption tradition never entered my mind and is certainly not the point. The point is foster care effects who our children become. My children have had to open up their hearts and their lives to strangers. They have had to share their parents with over 45 other children who have floated in and out of their lives over the past 17 years, and have done so graciously and compassionately. My children have learned at a young age about the inequity of life; that things aren’t fair and that children sometimes suffer at the hands of their own parents. They have had to learn early about pre-marital sex and unplanned pregnancies and addiction and child abuse. They have watched Jeff and I struggle with the emotions that come with fighting for the very life of a child and they have cried with us when we have lost the fight. They have seen their parents’ imperfections and the way in which a merciful heavenly Father can use them anyway. They have joined hands with us in prayer countless times as we have cried out to the Father for justice and mercy and they joined hearts with us when we all embraced a new daughter/sister. They’ve been babysitters, diaper changers, drivers, confidants, and shoulders to cry on. They have literally held me up in times when I couldn’t hold myself. They have truly poured themselves out so that the children who come into our home are cared for with the hands and feet and heart of Jesus.

Are our kids perfect? No way. They are just kids and now young adults. But, I realize that because of God’s call on our lives, they have been given an opportunity; a gift, and they have chosen to enthusiastically unwrap it. Inside is a beautiful picture of the Savior as He reaches out His arms and says “behold, children are a gift from the Lord” (all children!) and “whatever you do to the least of these, you’ve done it unto me”.

If God is calling you to foster or adopt, take a step of faith and give your children a gift. Will it be easy? No. Will it require sacrifice? Yes. Will it be worth it in the end? Absolutely.

Published in: on January 23, 2011 at 12:01 am  Comments (95)  

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  1. Wow, this is a beautiful post! We are currently a foster family and I couldn’t hope for more from my own kids! As it stands they are a little young to be able to make long term plans to foster as well, but if nothing else they will have life-long empathy for those less fortunate. If hubby and I have helped create more empathetic individuals, isn’t that already a huge start?
    Sincerely, Suzanne

    • Please do not ask your children to empathize with the foster children. This may cause an enormous sense of guilt or make them feel responsible for these children when your own kids need your empathy. It really screws with a kids head.

      • I am a foster parent, and I strongly disagree with you. I think that empathy is a vitally important attribute in children. Empathy means hurting with another, not feeling responsible for their pain. I believe that having our hearts broken for what breaks God’s heart is a necessity for the Christian. When Jesus says, “Blessed are those that mourn”, I believe He meant BLESSED are those that mourn. I want my children to be blessed. Luke 9:23 says, ““whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their CROSS daily and follow me.” I want my children to be His disciples which means they must learn to take up their cross. Romans 8:17 says, “if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, IF indeed we SHARE in his SUFFERINGS in order that we may also share in his glory.” I want my children to be His heir and share His glory, which means they must share in His suffering. American Christians have bought into the lie that we must make sure that our children grow up to be happy and comfortable, I believe that we have to fight diligently against this so that our children can KNOW God. True, we need to be diligent about protecting their heart. We need to give them the freedom to talk about their pains. We, as parents, need to empathize with their pain, but we, also, must allow them to KNOW God, His people, and His heart. May my children be blessed as they mourn, as they sacrifice, and as they share the amazing suffering of the Lord.

      • Of course empathy is a valuable quality to instill in your child, however you seem to be missing the point. The biological children start to take on responsibility for the foster children, it’s a natural reaction.

        Your 1st priority should be your own children and ensuring you are meeting their needs – not just physical needs, mental and emotional needs as well. Fostering is a great way to spread the love, but it is CRUCIAL that your own children don’t get lost in the fostering. They MUST have support to deal with the coming and going and loss issues that fostering creates.

        In addition to this, it is common for foster children to “share” some of the horrible things that have happened to them, with the biological kids. We don’t speak up because we are afraid they will have to go back to the “bad place.” This is a form of secondary trauma and your biological child doesn’t know how to deal with this – so they keep it inside, a secret to protect the fosters. This also becomes a way of dealing with life when you do it over and over. They provide counseling for the foster kids – but never for the biological kids?? I highly recommend counseling for families that foster. Talk about the tough stuff that hurts or scares them, make it an open environment, let them talk with someone else too . . . it’s your job as their parent to help them deal with the choice you made to foster.

        If you have never been a biological child who grew up fostering – then you really can’t know what it is like or what problems it creates in later adulthood. We become very codependent because we learned to put other’s needs in front of our own. I loved my foster siblings . . . more than I loved myself, I would have done anything for them.

        I am NOT slamming foster parents, mearly pointing out that you MUST provide support to help your own children process their feelings and emotions. NOT talking about it is not the solution and a very poor way to teach your children to cope. From speaking with many other biologicals, it appears that not talking about it was a common reaction in many of our homes.

        Thank you.

      • I think you misunderstand what the word empathy means but I can see why you would have a concern about trying to control the way kids feel.

  2. I grew up in a family where my parents did foster care and then adopted. Those experienced shaped my life and my faith in a way that most people would not understand. My husband and I went on to do foster care and to adopt. My parents knew all those years ago that they were working to change the lives of children…they just didn’t know how many!

    Great post, my friend.
    ♥ Kari

  3. We don’t have biological children, but we adopted our daughter as an infant. She has always been my main concern with answering the call to foster. She’ll be 3 when we get licensed in a few months.
    I feel that if we (my husband and I) have been called to do this so has she because God knew the child that would be our daughter when we started this journey. She has a huge heart and I know she’s going to embrace all these children as her own family and grieve with us when/if they leave. But I know the good will far outweigh the bad.
    It’s great to see posts like this as they give me the encouragement I need to remember that I know this to be true even when those around me might think otherwise.

    • My husband & I welcomed two children just over 6 months ago. We are fostering (hoping to adopt). We also have a 4 year old daughter who we adopted as an infant (she was 3 at the time they joined our family). I can’t imagine not traveling this path. Although the future us unknown, we have been honest with all the kiddos & they are true siblings. If given the chance, I would not “undo” our decision to foster!!

  4. Beautiful. True. Inspiring. Well said. I have always thought that if I can teach my children compassion everything else would fall into place. And that exactly is what you have done thru your (family’s) journey. I would call that a success! You have something to be proud of Momma.

  5. thanks for the great reminder of how blessed my own children are to have loved others as Jesus loves at such tender times in their lives. John has friends who have a whole different idea of what foster kids are like b/c they play with our kids and grew to be friends with them, and missed them when they went home and jump up and down for joy when the boys come back to spend the night. This opens the eyes of those around your family as well as your own children. There is sacrifice, there is much joy. I echo your words,…worth it in the end, absolutely!


  7. Here is a quote from Spurgeon that I recently read and is currently fixed in my mind: “The wisest action is not always the most pecuniarily profitable. It is wise sometimes for men to be poor, ay, even to lose their lives. Truest wisdom — not sham wisdom, not temporary wisdom — you shall manifest by following the example of Christ, though it lead you to prison or to death.”

    I think as Christian parents we seek our children’s comfort first and foremost when we should be seeking their holiness. We protect them from the things that we give them true life in order that they may be momentarily happy. My children (6 & 7) have had to sacrifice because of the little ones we bring into our home. They share a room, so that we can have an extra one. They share their parents, their time, their toys, and their hearts. My prayer, though, is that they gain true wisdom. That they become compassionate, generous, welcoming, thoughtful men of God. That they learn that the only way to gain real life is to give your life away.

    People ask how my boys handle foster care. They handle it better than I do, I think. They are champs, and I am so thankful for their sweet hearts!!

  8. Beautifully said….we have 3 children still at home, and have fostered this year. This question has been a concern that many have asked us. We have been blessed with a baby girl most of this year, as well as 22 other kids through short term care or respite care. God is using this in our lives, as well as the lives of others.

  9. This is a wonderful post. My husband and I struggled with this same question before we decided to become foster parents. I remember praying and asking God that if we decided to foster would our kids be kept safe. The Holy Spirit asked me a very tough question, “Are you willing to put your children at risk?” I replied, “No!” So then he asked a tougher question, “Are you willing to put your children at risk for the Gospel?” That question blew me away! The answer to that question requires faith beyond all reason…confidence that the plans God has for you really are to prosper and not harm you or your children. In becoming foster parents we know that we will have the opportunity to redeem children for Christ but we also know that redemption is messy, inconvenient, and comes at a high price. Are we willing to do all of those things for the Gospel? Is redeeming a life really worth that much sacrifice? Jesus thought so. And so do we. But the confidence to say those words didn’t come easy because we know they are more than just words. Those words require action. So here we are, just a few short weeks away from taking in our first foster child and we have confidence knowing that God has called us to foster for a purpose and that our children will be blessed because we have stepped out in faith and obedience and did not allow fear and doubt to cripple us and keep us from the plans God has for our family. Thank you, Christie, for these amazing posts. I love reading your blog!!!

    In Christ,
    Your new fan from NW Arkansas!!!

  10. Girl, you have the words and wisdom of no other! God is using you in a mighty way for the least of these, and for the great encouragement you give to those of us who have come along side you in this journey. So good to be reminded that it is all for His Glory!

  11. So good to find your blog. I love the testimony of your family and how your children have grown up in a home dedicated to loving children. We had four biological sons when we started the process of foster care. We were so surprised when they told us how excited they were to take in other kids. We told them that it would not be easy and it would take some of our attention. We also told them how God felt about helping orphans and they almost begged us to take in kids.
    Our kids have actually been an encouragement to us. We have had some tough kids and my husband and I felt like giving up, but our kids reminded us to be patient and love them. I am always so humbled by thier response. How I fail so many times! I am so thankful that God put sensitive, loving hearts in my children to help us along in this journey. We now have a 3 year old adopted daughter and a 2 year old foster daughter that has been with us for a year.
    I look forward to being encouraged by your blog.

  12. Enjoyed your blog. My 4 children were adopted out of foster care. We are truly blessed.
    Ross family
    River Valley AR

  13. I keep seeing a post titled “Legalism and Foster Care” on your blog through my reader, but then when I click on the post to come over to your blog and read it, there is nothing there! For several days now…very curious to read this post!

    • Hey Rebecca- I actually took it off because I thought it might be too critical! 🙂 I’ll send it to your email address if you want me to! 🙂 Email me at jherwin@juno.com if you do! 🙂

    • Hey Rebecca- I read it again, and decided to go ahead and post it! 🙂

  14. We are new foster parents. Our bio children are 6 & 7. They prayed & begged for this and are doing great!! (Even when our oldest foster daughter continually breaks their stuff… the bios just smile and forgive.)

    BUT, this post strikes something. My husband and I were just talking the other day about compassion and how I get so many comments (even from DHS) that I’m such a “natural” and how they can’t tell which kids are “mine” and which are foster, that I’m “so different”, etc… I think the only thing that is “different” about me is that I grew up with my parents always caring for others in our home! This way of life is normal to me. I am used to it. I have missed it… and LOVE that I FINALLY get to live my dream life – to care for others in MY home!! 🙂

    • JoAnna, how is your family now? Our kids are 6 and 8 and we’re feeling called to foster, but it is scary to take the first step. Both my husband and I work too. I’d love to hear your experience a few years after your original post. Thanks.

  15. Oh how I love this post, Christie! Thank you for writing this. Love to you!!

  16. We are starting next week with our first foray into relief care. We are so excited and look forward to the great things God has in store for us… Can’t wait to begin following your blog. Cathy

  17. I just discovered you blog and have already ordered your book! Thank you so much for the encouragement. Our family has just been approved to be foster parents. We have 4 biological children, ages 12, 10, 8 and 5. Our home is now open and we are anxiously awaiting our first children. We know without a shadow of a doubt that this is what God is calling us to do but I continue to get questions about the affect it will have on our biological children.

    • Thanks Sadie! I am so excited for you as you begin this journey. I know God will use you and your family in ways you cannot imagine! Keep me posted! 🙂

  18. My husband and I have just recently entered into discussion about fostering and have requested application papers. The only concern that we had was the potential impact it might have on our 3 kids. After reading all of the comments associated with this blog, I can say that I am confident that this is the right choice for the entire family! God has blessed us with wonderful children of our own, great jobs, a big house, and an empty chair at the dinner table! 🙂

  19. My Grandparents fostered 63 children after they raised 6 of their own. My DH grew up 800 miles from me where his grandparents adopted 3 through foster care while raising three bio’s (his dad was a bio) none of our parents chose to do fostering. I grew up thinking how I would love to Foster. I always wanted a house full of children and hubby agreed on 4, then we’ll see what happens-When we had multiple miscarriages I finally got my husband to agree it was time to follow God’s plan was for us to foster adopt and we began taking the foster classes. I found out I was pregnant again and once I hit 16 weeks (longest ever) we decided I would rest and get the bio baby in the world. Once she came DH felt we should focus on our own bio family. Once our baby turned 6 and we had many many more miscarriages we entered foster care training again this time in my hometown. sure enough as we were completing the classes Another pregnancy was cooking and sustaining. Last year we had baby number 2! I took this as a sign from God that If I heeded his call and helped him with these children, he would bless us with the greatest of gifts! My husband took this as a sign, (because he is afraid) that you do not need to foster, I will give you your own children. I am now 41 with a 8 year old and a 1 year old and want to fill the house with children within those ages. I read these posts and I cry of joy for you and loss for myself! Even my priest told me to be happy with what God gave me but I feel such a stronger calling, God is telling me to do this . Please help me by praying for guidance. I will get your book but do you suggest any other reading for myself and my husband?
    Thank you sooo much

  20. I was a foster kid and now I’m an adult with 3 young biological kids of my own (ages 2-7) and we are about to begin fostering children as well. I always told my foster mom I could never do it but that I’d hoped to adopt one day. It’s amazing how God works because, here we are, about to foster. I can’t wait.

    • Hey Lauren- what a beautiful story! I would love to hear more about your story if you’d be willing to share it! My personal email is jherwin@juno.com 🙂 Thanks for your comment! 🙂 Love and blessings, Christie

  21. Thank you so much for your post. I have a burning in my heart to adopt and be a foster parent. My husband likes the idea of adopting but not foster care because of the affect it could have on our own children (yet to be born, we’ve been married less than a year). I sent this onto him becuase I do believe that serving and sacrificing for the sake of a child’s potential will be for God’s glory and 100% worth it! I’m praying that he will feel the same way.

  22. Thank you for this post. My husband and I are FOS/Adopt parents. We have adopted our now 5 year old boy out of foster care. Since we have adopted him, we have taken in 5 more little ones all going back to their parents. One of them was his half sibling, and there was question on the father, so a DNA was done. It was a 98% match, so the baby went home to him after 8 months. This was tough on all of us. Currently, we are fostering two little girls, 9 month old an 18 month old. Our son is very attached and calling them his sisters, I want them to be my forever sister etc. This is going to be a messy case, Mom just went away to jail for six months and the judge is suspending the permanancy case until she gets out. We have been so worried about his growing attachment to them and the girls going home in what now appears to be one year.

  23. please remember people that if u gonna decide to be a foster parent and u have small biological chidren in your home do not take trouble teenager in because they will cause damage to your kids they do things to them and you will not know nothing about it till later.

  24. I feel a very strong calling to be a foster parent. I know that if it is God’s calling that he will protect our family, and that whatever happens will be of his will. Having that said I’m very concerned for the safety of our children. We have a toddler and a baby and are likely to continue growing our family. I was looking into becoming a foster parent in TX. I voiced my concern about being alone a lot (husband in the military) and the safety of my two small children, if I were to have a teenager in the house. They said the foster care system was full of teenagers that needed to be placed, and that I would have to be willing to accept them. My husband is deployed and I will not pursue this until he is home, but I am still concerned about getting a traumatized older child or teenager, who will hurt my children. Are there any websites or statistics addressing this concern?

    • Hey Alex,
      I think your concerns are absolutely justified. Personally, I would recommend you stay with young children. I would think with the tremendous need for foster parents, the agency would be happy to have you no matter what age group you specify! I am not aware of any websites that address what you are talking about…..Sorry I can’t help there! 🙂

    • yes I would be concern with the age factor, because foster children do have their problems I would leave this up to a older couple without children, my daughter is a foster parent, and a six year old can affect a child even there own age.

  25. I would caution any parent of biological children before choosing to enter foster care. I grew up with over 30 foster siblings and while it did make me a stronger more open and independent adult woman it left some pretty lasting scars as well. I was often exposed to rather dangerous situations that I never felt able to share with my parents (I understood myself to be blessed and felt obligated to not start any further problems for those who shared my home). As an adult I look back at my childhood (and what resulted in my parent’s neglect) with a lot of resentment.

    I think fostering is a noble endeavor but if you have bio children, please, be careful. They will take on a lot of responsibility at a very young age and it will stay with them forever.

    • Thank you so much for your candid comment and for being willing to talk about the other side of the coin- SO, SO important to be aware every day of the things that are going on with your bio kids, and to have an open line of communication with them so that they can feel free to tell you ANYTHING! Appreciate your comment- Christie

    • To ZTF – looks like we experienced some similar things as the biological kids in our parent’s foster home. If you’d like to chat, I’d love to have someone who can relate to this situation. Over the past few years, I’ve really began to understand how this all affected me as an adult. I get the impression you know what I mean.


      • Hi Linda,

        I would love to connect. I was raised with over 32 foster siblings over my entire 18 years at home and It was not until last year that I really started to question the negative impression this left on me. I have recently started counseling and I often feel as though I am the only one who has experienced this! Feel free to email me at:



      • To ZTF and Linda – My parents fostered about 15 kids over a 10 year period. I too share many of your feelings regarding fostercare and its affect on biological children. I’ve never had a proper place to discuss this but am happy to see there are others. My parents choice to foster has left me angry and bitter. Their use of guilt to combat my opposition has left me feeling shameful and resentful to children and teenagers in need. I can’t help but recommend that people considering fostering first make sure they put their biological kids first. I would really love to hear from others in the same situation. I’m 32 and its still bothering me on a daily basis. been in therapy for 10 years. gave it up.

      • Glad to see you here, you’re definitely NOT alone. My email is lindalou001@yahoo.com. Hope to hear from you!

  26. Hello,
    I was the biological child that grew up in a home with foster children coming and going over a period of 10 years. There IS an effect on the biological children that is very positive, but keep in mind that there can also be negative repercussions. It’s important that the biological kids’ needs are also being met and that they have access to counselors they can share their concerns or fears with. As a young girl, I was told many scary, unbelievable things about the horrors my foster siblings had gone through. I had no idea how to deal with this information and did NOT feel I should share it with my parents. I was afraid they’d make the foster kids leave and I knew they needed our help.

    Please make SURE that you have open communication with your own children, especially the young ones so they have an outlet for their emotions. I learned to stuff my feelings and fears early on because of this experience. I am in NO way speaking out against fostering – but I am very serious about the importance of making sure your biological children are learning how to deal with the impact of this.

    The affects of this did not show up until much later in my life. In my 20s/30s I was exactly how the author of this article is describing her children. The good news is that we can always learn how to deal with things in a new and healthier fashion. God bless all of you providing foster homes – but please give your own children access to counseling too.


    • Thanks Linda for the words of wisdom from someone who has walked the walk!! Appreciate your input so much.

    • So well put. Thanks for sharing that Linda. I am considering foster adoption and it is so helpful to hear realistic advice from somebody who doesn’t sound bitter or angry, just concerned about the reality of what can happen.

  27. I appreciate your comments and found some very beneficial websites, after rewording this a million times. It seems that the common consensus is maintaining strong and open communications and support with your bio children, and most of all constant supervision and vigiliance. I am looking forward to fostering when I am able to have this kind of attentiveness.

  28. I was a biological child in a family with foster children. The heartbreak I’ve gone through is immense. The first children were in our home for the first couple years of their lives when I was around 10 years old. I helped the youngest one take her first steps, and then one day when I was at school, the social worker came and removed them from our home. Parents had “gotten clean”. I didn’t even get to say goodbye.

    That was nothing compared to what I’ve been through later in life. Shortly after that, my four “sisters” came into our home and were with us into adulthood. I was very close with the oldest one, who was one year older than me. When she had kids, they called me uncle. Then, when I had a child of my own, she seemed to have decided that her biological sisters and mother were her real family and no longer wanted me in her life. I was devastated. If you are planning on fostering children, know that your biological children will suffer what is sometimes immense emotional pain when their “siblings” gravitate back to their roots.

    • I know exactly how you feel. My heart was broken so many times when my foster brothers and sisters were taken away without any warning. It really felt as though they had died, but we weren’t allowed to mourn the loss and were expected to go on as if nothing had happened. I still hold a lot of resentment and pain that is related fostering.

    • We have a little boy who we thought we would be adopting. My oldest is 5 and so is our foster child. I was recently informed he would transition home in the next two months. How would you help your 5 year old deal with this, as they are best friends and have been for 8 months. Its breaking our hearts.

  29. My husband and I are currently really praying about whether to continue to foster or not. We have a 3 1/2 year old daugther and 7 month old son. My daughter has asked “when is it going to be my turn to leave?” as she doesn’t understand she is a permanent resident in our home…. it’s so hard. I just want to do what God wants, and my heart is definitely still in foster care – It’s hard to see my children be the ones to sacrifice for our decision….maybe we need to re-evaluate once they are old enough to help us decide?

  30. For those of you that were raised in the foster home as a bio kid, did you feel differently about children that were adopted by your parents and became permanent or did you still them as outsiders? We are wanting to do only Foster to Adopt because of so many children in our county getting moved every few months. My kids really want more siblings and I am not sure they can handle losing one to a different placement. Just wondering if there is the same level of resentment toward your parents from adoptive siblings vs foster siblings.

    • My parents didn’t adopt any kids, but i always thought it would have been better if they adopted rather than fostered. First of all, the bio kids would have a clear understanding that the new member of their family was there to stay and not worry about them leaving. Another problem I had with fostering is that the bio kids initially try to protect their emotions by not accepting the foster kid as a “real” brother or sister because they know they are only going to get hurt when the foster kids are inevitably taken away. There was always a point when I did accept them as brothers and sisters and was destroyed when the had to go. This would be avoided if my parents had of adopted.

      • That is exactly what I was wanting to know. We are not accepting any foster that are not already terminated parental rights. We had dear friends that were destroyed by the court returning the baby they had since birth back to the bio aunt after he was already 18m. Only to have the aunt move across state lines and then dump him into foster care there. Because of some state agency conflict, the original foster parents couldn’t get him back. I don’t think my heart or my kids could take that type of a loss.

    • My parents never adopted, just fostered. They tried to adopt a brother/sister together, but were told it wasn’t possible because the father wanted them back and he had met the minimum requirements needed. Shortly thereafter, the father went back to drinking and moved them out of state to sever the bonds they formed with us during their 2 year stay AND to get out of the child protective services system.

      I believe that adoption would have been a much better choice for ALL of us. It’s hard enough for the adults to handle the loss when the foster kids leave – imagine being a child with no coping mechanisms or understanding of why this keeps happening. I never resented the fosters, I loved them like my real siblings.

      Thank you for taking the time to consider the impact this will have on your own kids. Like your kids, I always wanted more siblings, but I didn’t take into consideration what I needed from my parents as well. Just make sure you have the available time to dedicate to each and every one of them. It’s not the kids’ job to parent.

  31. i’m so glad I found this post. I am about to become a single foster parent to a 14 yr old girl and 10 yr old boy. I have two boys of my own, 10 and 6. We have known these kids for 3 yrs and my boys can’t wait for them to move it. I am worried about how it will affect my kids and how to balance every thing so that everyone, including myself, doesn’t feel left out, neglected or unloved. My hat goes off to all of you who have posted before me and thanks for your words.

  32. Nice post.

    As a natural (biological) born “survivor” of foster care I think there are some things left out. There are degrees of fostering children, at least in the US and specifically California. I used the word “survivor” because that is exactly what takes place. In our house we had both long term foster children and emergency foster children. I would recommend to any one who is considering foster care to take in long term foster care children as they will more closely match a “Family” life cycle.

    Emergency foster care takes a whole other kind of parent or guardian in my opinion. Emergency foster care entails being able to cope with children taken directly from a crisis (ie..Rape, Molestation, physically abused, prostituted, violent physical crime / great bodily injury, suicide and every other evil you can think of) and placing them in your home. I can’t recall how many times I was woken up by police cars out side our house and my parents asking me to give up my bed for our newest arrival. While providing for a less fortunate person has its merits it can take a large toll. I can’t even begin to go into the details of every day life in an emergency foster house. I never knew our city had so much crime until my parents received the Emergency status. There is also a large change in the effect of how your own children will grow up. Having two distinct families systems to maintain is very difficult if not impossible and it can have a negative impact on your own children. After all, “Why does Johnny get five birthday parties? and I can only have one?” Well, let’s look at that. There is Foster family (birthday 1), Mom (birthday 2), Dad (birthday 3), Uncle (birthday 4), Grandparents (birthday 5), and maybe Brother or Sister (birthday 6 & 7). Don’t kid yourself, I saw this many times. I was not jealous, don’t think that. I am just showing you an example of reality. That is hard for a parent to deal with also, I think my parents did a wonderful job.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love kids, I love helping those in need, I love that I personal helped a great many children learn better and new behaviors! That’s what drew me to go into law enforcement, to help stop the flow of children into the system.

    Think twice, do the research, think again, do more research. Learn multiple techniques on how to positively effect change when the need for punishment arises, how to teach positive interactions between children and more…Realize in most cases you will not be able to treat the foster children as you would your own! That cramps how to be a parent in many ways. You are not allowed to spank a foster child while you can your own. Along with many other rules that will apply, so do the research, with your city, county, foster system and social workers. If possible go to a private sector foster system before going to the county. Unless you TRULY!! are looking to help those who not ten minutes earlier were in great danger.

    Good luck, God Bless,
    biological born, foster system survivor

  33. Advice needed! We recently added two girls into the house. 4 and 6 are their ages. Our first placement. My daughter(6) is having a great time playing with the girls UNTIL she goes to school. Ever since I enrolled the oldest in school my baby girl cries at school every morning and doesn’t want to go. She has always loved school and never wanted to miss before. Any ideas on how long this might last and when it becomes unhealthy for her. Also, any suggestions on how to fix it?

    • Hi Renay, Sorry I’m just now seeing your comment! How are the girls doing now? Are your bio daughter and your foster daughter in the same class? And is your daughter the only bio child in the house? Just wondering if she is feeling anxiety about the whole situation and it is more manageable when she is at home. Just thinking…. There are just so many emotions that come out for us and our kids when foster kids are added to the family! What a beautiful thing that your daughter loves playing with the girls and I’m sure is a big help. Let me know how its going!! 🙂

      • Thanks! We figured it out. She was worried that when I left her at school that someone might come pick her up (like they had the 6 year old). We are now moving into sharing issues, but we will make it.

      • Bless her heart! So glad you were able to get to the bottom of that- how scary for her! The sharing ‘thing’ is hard- but hopefully will work itself out as they all get more familiar with each other! 🙂

  34. I live in canton ohio we all know the foster care system is a broken system we have to all come together in all states we have to support the parents / families that have had there children wrongfully taken / put up for adoption / sale we have to support the children that do need foster care & be protect while they are in there foster placement we have to keep exposing / family court we have to be a voice for all of our innocent children I have met with many state reps they have all told us they could not do nothing to help fix the foster care system we need a good strong organization in all states I’m trying to start my own organization to help parents that have had there wrongfully taken / put up for adoption / sale we need to get all closed cases reopen I would everyone to contact me my e-mail is kindnessohio@att.net Let’s join together to help innocent parents / families fight for there innocent children / grandchildren we need a lot of help / support

  35. affect (verb) vs. effect (noun)

  36. Pray for us–we’ve gone through orientation, but are still struggling to make the right decision for our family. Thank you for your post though–it shows some of the positive benefits that could come from this experience as we’ve heard so many negatives from the county that it does tend to make you skittish.

    • Sounds like you may be in same situation as my husband and I . We feel the strong call to foster or foster to adopt a child in need. We have the love in our hearts and plenty of room. However, we have 4 children of our own, 3 being teenagers and one of our children has expressed that he definitely is against the idea. Now we struggle if we move forward or not.

  37. I love this! My husband and I want to foster so badly, and we’ve had nothing but negative feedback from family, claiming that it’s irresponsible because our bio children are so young. I am not even suprised anymore when well meaning people tell me to , “be careful, fostering could end your marriage.” I don’t think I would feel this call so strongly if it wasn’t right, though. Thank you for being a voice for the beaty of opening your heart and home.

  38. I STRONGLY disagree!! I was 10 when my mother started fostering children. My mom at the time was newly divorced from my father whom we didn’t see. Not only was it hard having only one parent all of a sudden but having to share that only parent was an awful experience! My mom had 3 biological children and 3 foster children. Dividing her love and attention between 6 children must have been a difficult task but unfortunately for myself and 2 biological siblings we often didn’t get a look in as we were “ok” or did not require the “extra attention”. I grew up feeling very alone like I didn’t matter to anyone! I would never wish that feeling upon any child growing up. It is a beautiful thing taking in disadvanted children but please think twice before you sacrifice your own child’s life for another.

  39. Hi there, I really liked your article. I really feel God tugging at my heart the last 6 yrs to foster and believe to finally be ready to go to our first info session! We have 5 boys rsnging in age from 2-13 and baby on the way and for some crazy reason I am stepping out now?! Lol.
    I was wondering if you had any insight on gender choice, if we already have boys should we stick with boys or would it be okay to add a girl to the mix? And if so what sge would be appropriate. .

    • don’t do it. be a better parent to your biological kids.

    • Hi Autumn-Wow! What an awesome story- is your baby a boy too? 🙂 What age child (children) are you considering fostering? I think that would play into your decision about which gender would best fit. 🙂

    • I have 4 biological children, all boys. When we began fostering we were open with gender but soon realized that we just do better with boys. Our home is set up for boys, we understand boys, and it just plain works for us. I don’t know where God will continue to lead us but for now we have all boys :).

  40. I am an adult with a childhood and now adulthood as well damaged by my mothers constant fostering habits left with legacies and things I will never appreciate nor understand. I see why kind people want to help but be warned will you leave your own kids bitter and resentful ?

    • Julie,
      I am so sorry about the bitterness and resentment caused by your mother’s being a foster parent. It is very difficult to foster well and raise your own biological children with a sense of security and belonging. I pray that God will meet you where you are and give you a new perspective and that you will be able to live a very productive and fulfilling life. Thank you for sharing your thoughts-
      Christie Erwin

  41. We are having our 5 year old foster guy who we thought was heading toward adoption be transitioned to go back home in two months. My bio 5 year old (and 3 and 2 year old) have become very attached to him and the 5 year olds are best friends. I dont think its in his best interest to go home, and I personally feel like my heart is being ripped out. How do you cope with feeling like you are losing a child? How do you help your own 5 year old cope with this huge loss? We have 2 bio children and 1 adopted from birth, we were hopeful this 5 year old would be here to stay with us.

  42. Great article.

    my ambition when i was younger was to own a loving orphanage but as i grew up i realised the only way forward was to adopt or foster.

    the process is putting me off hugely as although my husband is open to the idea and is a kind compassionate man he works away ALOT and that would leave me looking after all kids (have 2 bio kiddies), he wouldnt be up for all the courses social workers and panels 😦 in UK.

  43. Enjoyed this article so much! Over a year ago we received a distant relatives children as and emergency placement. Having been in Foster care before I was glad to help. Since then we became licensed. To say this has been taxing on the family is an understatement but we have adjusted relatively well.We recently learned they would be returning to their Mother in a different state due to a mix-up by DCFS. My question is while I am excited for them to be going back to their natural parent I am concerned how to help my 3year old cope. He cannot remember a time when they wasn’t here and I want to make it as easy as possible for him. I know my heart will break. How do I explain that to a toddler who thinks they are his siblings and has always loved them? Please help as I only have a few weeks and my anxiety is growing.

  44. I want to foster a child so bad but my husband isnt ready. No telling when that will be. I feel like it is my calling from God. What do I do?

    • You Pray and Wait.

  45. […] “Won’t my biological kids be effected by foster care?” […]

  46. Reblogged this on beautifullybrokenbyhim and commented:
    Beautifully written… Yes, it changes your bio children, it opens their eyes to caring for others and life outside their own.

  47. We are talking about this very thing right now. We originally signed up to do fost/adopt and have been asked to do temporary foster. Our kids are 6 and 3 and we are wondering how this will effect them. Our first placement went home in December and they handled it fairly well. Our 3 year old still talks about our first placement though and we think it has had some effect on her as far as some worries and fears. We are currently (like today) considering what we should do. Should we step out in faith on this and take the kids or should we be more cautious about the effects on our kids?

    • Brian,
      I totally understand where you are. I think this is an extremely personal decision; every couple is different and every child is different. In our case, our bio kids grieved just like we did, but always wanted to know when the next child was coming for us to care for.
      I think you are smart taking time and prayer and thought to your decision, because only you know how your kids are reacting and will react. Thank you for your selfless service to vulnerable children!! 🙂
      Love and blessings,
      Christie 🙂

  48. My teenage son and husband are finding it extremely difficult to accept that I’ve taken in 2 of my grand children . They see it as my enabling g my daughter. They beg me to return kids to cps. I just can’t and thus we have separated. No idea how this story may evolve but it’s a situation I strive to process every day.

    • I am so sorry Cindy! It sounds like you find yourself caught in the middle of a very very difficult situation. Thank you for loving well- praying that God will restore your marriage, open hearts and minds, and allow you to care for everyone in your life that needs you.
      Love and blessings,
      Christie 🙂

  49. I am a single parent who has been fostering a brother and sister for 3 years as well as raising my two biological boys. I never knew the amount of work that was in store for me when I took this responsibility on and although I would never stop fostering them, I have realized that I would not do it again. It has been a hard balancing act between dealing with constant issues with my foster kids and my bio kids having to play second. I struggle every day with balance, being over run with counselling appointments, tutoring, doctor appointments, etc while working full time. My biological kids get a tired, run down, stressed out, overwhelmed mother who has really sucks at making quality time for them. I feel guilty if I want to do something with just them but I know I have to. People pat me on the back all the time for being so “noble” and tell me how great I am for opening my heart and my home to others but I feel like a fraud because there are days where I wish I could just go back to me and my boys. Think hard before you make this decision. It is life changing for our kids and we may be able to rationalize life but they can’t.

    • You are indeed a brave woman to take on the responsibility and care of two additional children as a single mom. I am sure you are much more critical of yourself than you need to be. You are providing love and nurture and permanence to children who need it the most and I can tell by your message how much you love your kids. Praying you will get some respite and be able to have time to refresh yourself so that you will be able to continue to pour yourself into all the children in your home/family!!
      Love and blessings,
      Christie 🙂

  50. My husband am I are return to Upper Michigan in a few weeks, We have been thinking of looking into foster-care, this question came up the other nigth, so I went looking, this article is beautiful an thank you for an honest loving perspective on Foster – care Thank you.

  51. I’m a young adult and my mom is a foster parent. She’s been a foster parent for a year and has just now started the adoption process with her foster child. I have a lot of anxiety as this child has scared me in the last and I am really upset with my mom for putting me in this situation. I love this kid, but I don’t want him to be apart of my family forever. im extremely worried I’ll grow up with hatred toward my mom for disregarding my feelings and going through with the adoption. Reading comments from people that have been in my situation scares me even more. Being a sibling to a foster kid has changed my life and my relationship with my mom. I hope that my soon to be sibling will have a fantastic life, but I can’t imagine being apart of it.

    • I am so sorry you are going through this. I definitely understand – as my parents fostered – and it lead to many issues as a teen and now adult.

      What has your mother said? Or his case worker? I am sending you love and positive energy – I hope your Mom finally see’s how this is affecting you and your relationship with her.

  52. For those that have been the biological child and experienced struggles due to fostering, I’m developing a place to gather and share our stories. I hope to provide more info, suggestions and support; it’s in the early stages. Thanks! http://biologicalchildfostercare.weebly.com/

  53. When you fostered did you interrupt birth order? Or did you only foster children younger than your youngest? We just became certified to foster. Since my oldest is 5 I thought we would take kids 5 and under. But my youngest is 18 months, so I am questioning my age range.

  54. I was a child who’s parents had and adopted a few of the kids that they fostered, i will say that growing up with foster brothers & sisters that are there one day and leave the next is very traumatic for some children. I became attached to each one & what that system taught me is that everyone you love & care for will leave you, one way or another

  55. How did you balance your time with your biological kiddos and your foster kids so that your kids didn’t feel left out? I am dealing with this with my teenage daughter right now.

  56. Well, I’m happy it’s a nice experience for you. My experience has been the opposite so far.
    You see, I’m the biological child of foster parent’s. I was supportive of my parent’s and did what I could to help. I’m nearing my thirties and have my own job but I do happen to live with them.
    Recently we got two teenage girls. One is quiet and we play games all the time. Her sister, however, sees me as the enemy. She tried her best to separate me from my parent’s and prevent us from hugging. I found out that her history is once she gets into a new family, when the bio child confronts her she levels accusations. Then I found something else, she had used my toothbrush to scrub the tub. Before she had said, during an argument with her sister “Toothbrushes are off limits!” ​She ate all the chocolate I had hidden that was expensive. She lies all the time and sees it as fun. I determined her aim is to get me out of the way so she has full run.
    I’m happy your experience has been wonderful, mine on the other hand…I don’t know yet.

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