I hear this brought up too often to ignore.

“I feel like such a failure.”

Perhaps you’ve felt this way lately.  It’s a funny thing.  Foster parents don’t get report cards, but sometimes we grade ourselves.  We measure ourselves against others or even our own ideals. Quite frankly, we can be pretty tough.

We all have expectations of what foster care will look like in our home.   Some of us have worked with children for years and others are first time parents.  There are people who believe their deep love will eliminate a child’s disruptive behavior.  Then there are those of us who have read too many books or watched too many movies and believe if we just do everything right, we’ll have a storybook ending.

Focusing on the cornerstones of safety and well being can help us develop perspective and uncover the root of feelings of failure.

Is the child safe?  Am I providing a safe home that meets this child’s needs?   If the answer is yes, way to go!  You’re doing great.  If you have concerns about safety, contact your caseworker right away.

Secondly, Am I doing what I can to help this child do well emotionally and physically?   Yes, again?  Look at you go!  Maybe you feel like the child is not doing well.  Who can you contact to help you? A play therapist?  An athletic team to burn some steam?  Reach out to someone.  It’s not cheating.   It’s OK.  In fact, it’s necessary.

Notice safety and well-being are the focal points for us.  Not perfection.  Not idealism.  Not instant results.

Failure isn’t the opposite of success, it’s part of the success.  When you start to feel like you’re failing, there’s a good chance you’re on the road to better things.  Don’t allow negative feelings to trap you.

Perhaps famous poet, John Keats, said it best:

Don’t be discouraged by a failure. It can be a positive experience. Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success, inasmuch as every discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true, and every fresh experience points out some form of error which we shall afterwards carefully avoid.

Oh, and if foster parents did get grades.  I would give you an E for excellent effort.  You’re doing above and beyond most.  Good work.




Vacare is the latin root of the word vacation.   It means ‘to be unoccupied.’  There are many things that occupy children:  school, friends and family.  Children in foster care, however, are often occupied with worry about their families.  Maybe this is why they can benefit so much from a vacation and time to be unoccupied.

I’ll never forget one Sunday morning.  Two teenage girls were hanging out by the coffee and donuts in our church.   I introduced myself and learned they were foster sisters.   I awkwardly tried to make conversation and keep things light. I started talking about our upcoming vacation to the Georgia Mountains, just a few hours away.  Their eyes lit up as I talked about an old cabin.  One girl spoke up.   She went on to explain that they have never been on a vacation.  Ever.   These girls were about to graduate with no memories of long car rides with siblings, getting lost in a new place, laughing at silly mistakes or standing in awe of a new discovery.

In that instant I was tempted to try and squeeze two more people into my already full minivan.  I desperately wanted to give them the quintessential family vacation, complete with all the quirks.  Since that moment, I’ve always been very intentional to give the kids that come into our home a vacation.

A vacation doesn’t have to be a lavish trip to Disney.  Whatever fits your family culture will do.  If budget is an issue keep in mind you can have a vacation without breaking the bank.  Just be creative!  A “staycation” can be an exciting time as you explore new places in your hometown.  So take a vacation.   You deserve it. Think about taking your kids too.  It might be the first vacation they experience.

What are some of your vacation memories?  How have they shaped your worldview?  What type of vacation might be most beneficial to the kids in your home?   What time frame makes the most sense?  A day or a weekend or a week?