Elizabeth Norton
A Champion of Hope for a Far Better World
Elizabeth Norton
A Champion of Hope for a Far Better World
Blog Post

It’s time for Resource (Foster) Parents to have Resources of their own that Can Help Them

23 children. Twenty three. 23 hellos. 23 goodbyes. It’s what I signed up for. It’s what I knew, and hoped would eventually come because reunification is always the goal. Still 23. My heart was never the same, now and forever in 23 pieces. Those broken pieces now make me who I am as I continue on with life as a birth mother of three.

I am fine. I am a lucky one. Many foster parents, excuse me “resource parents”, are not. I see them struggle with empty room syndrome, akin to empty nest syndrome, the same but different. The feeing you get when you walk past a room and that room is empty. You wonder where the child is? Has he/she eaten today? You shutter at the thought of the mom falling off the bandwagon and sliding away from sobriety. You pray that the father hasn’t shown face and abused the mother again, or even worse, the child. The child you held in your arms just days ago when they were with you.

It’s all common thoughts for the temporary parent that held the place till the mom finished her “training” or required counseling services. The painful reality is that it will not be to long that same room will be filled again, this time with a different child with circumstances that may be even worse. Then that child leaves and the process starts all over again.

With little to no rebound time, how is the temporary parent supposed to handle the emotions, Handle the heartbreak, Handle those goodbyes? It’s no wonder that foster parents have bodies ridden with cancer or are emotional eaters. It’s no wonder that foster parent burnout is as common of an occurrence as the sun rising and setting each day.

Yet here we are, in the year of 2024, and no services are available to the temporary parent. No counseling to help cope. No art therapy to help deal. Music therapy could ease that broken heart but instead our government, at least the state of NJ, offers nothing.

If children are our greatest resource than shouldn’t the parent, any parent that cares for a child, be of value too, especially those that care for a child that is not legally theirs? No services are available to those that lend out their hearts knowing it will break. It’s not just the government that is failing the foster parents. It’s the nonprofits that are supposed to be filling in those gaps of need in our society. It’s the churches that are called to care for God’s children. Where is the support for someone that gives their greatest commodity, their heart?

As I said before, I signed up for this and I say all of this as not a complaint but as an opportunity to open eyes to an opportunity to be part of the solution in a very bleak job. Akon that I hated to love so very much.

Resource parents are just that, a resource to be used. Maybe, just maybe, if we treated resource parents with dignity and offered support and services there would not be a shortage of foster parents in our state and/or County. Maybe abuse rates in foster homes would decline? Maybe the right temporary foster parent could handle the goodbyes in a healthy way and temporary home retention would be a little better. Maybe the heartbreak wouldn’t make the heart hard. Maybe the foster parent could remember his/her reason for doing it all in the first place. If we think of a foster parent as a resource we will think of them as nothing more than some “thing” we use until it’s no longer needed. If we offer, somehow and someway, temporary parents the support they need this world would be far better off.

One can hope…..

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