My First Week as a Foster Mom

Katie Dunlavy, Lularoe boutique owner, of The Pearl Pages smiling and holding her foster baby with a green pacifier.

What a week! I have so many thoughts and feelings running through my mind. The flu has hit our house for the second time this month. Ada’s “honeymoon” phase of diabetes ended suddenly. And WE HAVE A FOSTER BABY!

Let me start by saying this 8-month-old little boy is absolute perfection. He is a joy to be around and we are SO happy that we get to love him.

This is something I wrote the week before his placement with us. I didn’t know what else to do at the time. As I’m reading it now with this baby sleeping on my chest, I can’t help but sob happy tears. I’m so glad I have this to look back on.

The worst part of any journey is feeling lost and helpless. In foster care, this is often the norm.

Knowing that I am completely HELPLESS. Knowing that I have zero control.

The only thing I can do is love. I can just sit here and love him.

Currently, my heart is so broken for a little boy. My arms are literally aching to hold him. I want to love him and comfort him. I want to keep him warm. I want to feed him. I want to bathe him. I want to sing to him and let him know that he is loved.

And knowing that I CAN’T is earthshattering. All I can do is pray. I can sit here and love him while he is there. I can sit here and send love and prayer. My hands are completely tied and my heart is completely broken. My mind is consumed.

I am helpless.

On my knees praying this boy feels safe tonight. Praying that even if I only ever love him from afar that he will somehow feel it. He HAS to be able to feel it.

And now he’s here!

My first week as a foster mom has been a rollercoaster. When I first got the call, I’ll admit I panicked.

“What have I done? My family is sacred. My family is home. I just changed my family. I CHANGED MY FAMILY!!! I can’t help but feel a sense of fear and anxiety over this fact. My family went from 4-5 in a phone call. What if I miss moments with the girls? WHAT HAVE I DONE?!” This is what I sent to my friend Elle (you may remember her as my foster role model from the “Why Foster?” post).

This was her response:

“First, recognize that this a big deal. You are raising someone else’s child. Going into this with ease would be more concerning.

Second, I believe that no one is “ours.” Iley and Ada, they’re God’s and he has entrusted you with them. And now, he has entrusted you with this baby. His creations, his most precious treasure, he is handing to you. What an honor.

Third, you are making moments with Iley and Ada. You are such an intentional mom that you aren’t just doing life but you are shaping their life. You’re showing them the most important things about life and giving them a closer glimpse at God’s radical love. What a gift! And not just that. You’re not just showing them with your “yes,” you are giving them the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus as babes. What world changers they are!”

-Elle Flowers

I wish everyone had an Elle. Sometimes we just need a reminder of what we know is true. I know this. This is why we said, “YES.” We said, “YES” to foster care when everyone around told us to say no and questioned our choice. This is why we have said “yes” to this baby for longer than you know. Trust that God has perfect timing. When we aren’t in the messy middle of this journey, I hope to tell you the full story.

This is all so new that I’m still not sure what to call him. I’m not sure how to talk about him. We live in a small town, so people notice and are confused when they see us together. I don’t want to refer to him as just a “foster child.” It feels like a label. It feels disrespectful to his family to call him ours and disrespectful to him if I say he’s not. I’m sure in time we’ll work all of this out.

People keep saying, “oh, I hope you get to keep him!” This makes me feel weird. It’s never a good day when a child loses their mother. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. And while I LOVE loving this baby, I don’t “hope” I get to keep him.

Who knew I would instantly feel so defensive about his mother and his family? People make a lot of assumptions. Not all children who come into foster care come from an awful family. My baby (is that what I say?) comes from a wonderful family. Let’s be real for a second: being a parent is HARD. No one is perfect. Things happen. His family is now MY family. We are all FAMILY.

It does feel strange adding a member to the family without a welcome wagon, though. No shower, no party, no one bringing over dinner. There aren’t people dying to come over to get a peek and hold him. I had no idea that I would feel this way. When I told my husband he said, “This sounds like your dream. You HATE the pressure of the welcome wagon. You’ve always said, ‘Next time I have a baby I’m not telling anyone for a week.’ This is what you’ve always wanted!” Which is very true, but I’d still like a dang casserole. If you know a foster momma, take her a dinner. Even if that child is there a week, she needs a casserole.

Having a baby and not breastfeeding is also strange. I almost feel like I don’t know what to do! Like I’m in a battle without my secret weapon. Thor without his hammer. But having a baby that doesn’t make your boobs leak when they cry is a real bonus. Caring for an infant and having your clothes fit? Also a bonus. And having a baby that sleeps through the night?! Can I get an AMEN!

So as you can see, it’s all very new. I’m happy. I’m confused. I’m adjusting to our new life.

Fostering is very overwhelming. Very uncomfortable. Very emotional. And very, very worth it.

Fellow foster families: what was your first foster placement like? Any tips or words of wisdom for our growing family?

And to everyone, my community of friends, family, readers, and strangers on the internet: thank you for sharing your love, prayers, and support. We feel it and we need it. You know I’ll keep you up to date on everything that’s going on in our little world!



One thought on “My First Week as a Foster Mom

  1. My family had a foster child – the same sweet boy twice. We were going to adopt him. He was number 4 in a family of 5 kids. The 3 youngest kids were in the system. He was so sweet and so small when we got him at 3. Caring for him was such a great thing. When the time came for a final placement, Social Services decided to try to find a family for our sweetheart to be with his sister. That was the right thing to do. However, it did end up breaking our hearts…even when it was the perfect thing for the two of them. A wonderful family with one child adopted the two kids and they all have had a wonderful life together. Katie, being a parent is hard no matter how a child comes into your life. However, all the gifts they provide far outweigh the difficulties. There are lots of people who would love to come over and see you all, but, you have germs and people are respecting that. lol.


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