May was Foster Care Awareness Month.
There are so many topics to discuss with foster care. But I want to talk to you about a very important part of foster care that is not always talked about. How do I protect my marriage when my husband and I are foster parents?
This is a very real question. This question needs to be discussed.
If you are a foster parent or wanting to be a foster parent, you should know the answer to this question. My husband and I are foster parents. Right off the bat, I want you to know that if you are a foster or adoptive parent or if you are considering it, you can ask me anything and everything. PLEASE. I promise to be honest with you about all things foster care and adoption. It is very dear to my heart! So after discussing this topic with my husband, we came up with this.
Top 5 Ways to Protect your Marriage as Foster Parents:
Cliche, I know, but oh so necessary. We are very blessed to have both sets of grandparents living in the same town as us. And both sets willing to go through all the necessary measures to babysit our foster children. Our parents are jewels! We also have one friend who has done all the things in order to be our babysitter. This is priceless. (If you are reading this and you are not a foster parent but you want to help, see what you need to do in order to babysit for foster parents.)
2. Early bedtime for the kids.
I am very much a stickler on my kids’ bedtime. My children go to bed at 8:00. We currently have a 10 and a 5 year old. They both go to bed at 8:00. This gives us a couple of hours each night that we can spend together. Watching shows, reading, sitting on the porch visiting. Whatever we need, we have the time.
3. Our rule is “Ignore what is said between 11:00 pm and 5:00 am”.
I am not saying this is a free-for-all bash your spouse. This is definitely a little comical half-heated rule but it needs to be said. Sometimes we have newborns come into our home that do not sleep through the night. It happens. We just have an understanding between the two of us that as we are pacing the house at 3:00 am with a precious child who has been pulled from their mother. Pulled from their home. Screaming. Crying. Possibly coming off of drugs.
We may say things we don’t mean.
When we are rested and it is daylight, we clearly remember we are a team. But sometimes in the middle of the night that gets fuzzy. I am being vulnerable here. This is a harsh reality to foster care. But I want you to understand. If you can have these discussions when you are rested and ready to conquer the world it helps.
Along the same lines I guess. You have got to be honest with your spouse. Say the hard things. Say the things you cant’t say to anyone else. You’ve got to be able to say anything and everything to your spouse when you are foster parents.
You will deal with feelings and emotions you have never dealt with before.
You will think things you never thought you would think. And you will want to know that you can say anything to your spouse without being judged. They are your safety net. They are your sounding board. I know that I can say ANYTHING to my husband on this journey. Most likely he has felt it or thought it before. We are helping each other put these emotions into words and to work through them.
5. Find your people.
This whole tribe concept…there really is something to it. It has helped us tremendously to have our people. It is true that you may lose friends when you foster kiddos from hard places. But you will learn who your true people are and you will love them all the more for it. We know our people.
I know who to call when we have a new placement coming. We have our person who brings clothes. We have our people who bring food. And we have our people who pray. It takes all of us to make a somewhat smooth transition for a new child. “Our people” are the ones who have a family get-together and say “Cowarts, how many kids are you bringing this time?” 🙂 They love us and our kids whoever they may be.
That warms my heart! They are the ones who know when you need to vent and when you need to sit in quiet. They love you and your family, whoever that may be at the time.
These are just our top 5 things we feel are necessary to protect your marriage as a foster parent. I am sure there are more. If you have some helpful tips, please share. And if you have any questions on fostering or adopting, please contact me. It would bring me joy to answer your questions and walk alongside you as you journey through fostering/adopting.