By: Mary Tyson
Mary Tyson has been a foster parent with LSS/NCA for 26 years and has fostered a total of 228 children. Below is her eloquent testament about the call to fostering and the requirement of “letting go.”
Letting Go…there’s one subject that comes up more than any other when I am talking to potential foster parents. They want to know how they will be able to “let go” when it is time for the child to leave. People say, “I could never foster a child because I would love them too much and would not be able to give them up.”
Unfortunately, this heartbreak is built into the responsibility. Foster parents are asked to open their homes and their hearts. A foster family builds bonds of love and trust because that is what the child needs to heal from the trauma they have experienced in their lives. The family does this knowing that reuniting with the birth family is the best possible outcome for a foster child.
As with most things, this potential heartbreak is not easy to explain to those who have not experienced it. I “let go” of one of my kids today. After 6 months in our home, my emotions are a tangled ball of yarn as I begin the process of readjustment. However, there is another side to this heartbreak and this is the reality of taking in a stranger’s child to provide the love they need. When I “let go” of a child the feelings are always two sided: Sadness and relief. Stress and freedom.
Fostering encourages us to reach deep inside ourselves and act outside of our own interests and comfort zone, to truly and fully love a child completely and without self-interest. When someone asks me how I handle the heartbreak of sending a child home, I tell them that I am sad and I am happy. I will miss Johnny and I will cry over that loss. However, I will be happy that he is on a new path, on his way home. I pray to God that he will always be with him. “If it did not hurt to let you go, I did not do it right.”