Foster moms – the forgotten mothers

As I checked off another Mother’s Day last week, I realized few if any mentioned the women who welcomed unrelated children into their homes as foster mothers or legal guardians. The children may not called them “mom” or stay in the home through adulthood, but these women deserve recognition for the mothering they provide.
Recently, I was reminded of one in particular. Several years ago she encountered a family of children in great need physically, educationally, socially, etc. The parents repeatedly failed to regularly provide the basics nor did they make an effort to gain those skills or listen to anyone trying to teach them.
I knew the situation casually. One day this woman with children of her own saw their great needs and opened her home to the children. She asked, and the parents agreed to appoint the woman and her husband as their children’s guardians until the parents built those missing components in their lives. Taking in another family increased her household by a third. She shoved beds around, re-arranged schedules and made room to accommodate more children.
For the next several years she and her husband provided all the care and attention the parents could not. The parents made some different choices. Those choices in part aimed to improve the odds of providing a sufficient home for the children. The children needed a decent place to live. They needed regular attendance in a classroom setting with other children and a qualified teacher.
The guardians made sure the children went to school every day, did homework and got outside for sunshine, exercise and community activities. Without any compensation, the appointed guardians agreed to make sure the children had adequate clothes and food and shelter until their parents could.
The few times I saw them after that, I noted how much healthier, cleaner, and neater the whole family looked once the foster mother took charge. The whole family needed help breaking out of the rut. Moving the children in with another family provided that break.
I followed them online. The children settled into the new routine. With remedial work, they caught up on missed classwork. In time I even saw an Honor Roll certificate posted online. One of the parents enrolled in training that opened various job opportunities.
Then one day I looked online and the extra children had disappeared from the guardians’ pictures. I asked and learned that the family had reunited. I know they had met some of the goals the guardians had originally specified for reunion.
Having seen the dedication and commitment of the fostering mother, I wrote the following letter. That same letter could just as easily go to every foster parent who opens their homes to children for a weekend, a month or years.
“Today as I was praying my thoughts especially focused on you and all that you and your husband and family did to give the children a better childhood. Thank you for all that you did. I know that their parents have no clue how much you invested in them emotionally, financially or spiritually. I pray that God will take the seeds you sowed in their lives to nourish and bless them into strong successful adults.
“I also pray for comfort when the pang of missing them hits you.
“I have been there, done that … There are no words to describe the emotional aftermath.
“Know that we love you and do pray for you and are most grateful for all that you did. Things we could not have done with the energy and enthusiasm you exhibited.”
Fostering children challenges the best of parents, but with prayerful dedication, it blesses so many. So, in case you didn’t hear it, thank you to all you foster moms who may never be called “mom” but do the job anyway.