Determining The Worth Of A Foster Parent

Author of 4 books, podcaster, parent trainer, wife and mother.

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I’m trying to remember the last time I knew I fit in. I think it was pre-school. My teacher, Mrs. Green, called everyone to the story carpet. “Ok friends, time for a story,” she would sing. Friends. She always used that word, and I guess she was right. I liked everyone in that class and they liked me. I fit in there.

The rest of my life up to this point has been a constant reminder that I’m not like other people. In Jr. High it was my choice to wear the thick pink glasses. In High School it was the loneliness of the lunch hour. Pretending to do schoolwork in the library, rather than sit alone in the crowed cafeteria. As an adult, it’s the family choices we’ve made. Counter to our culture, we are minimalists with very little technology, a small house, and a fairly large family. We are exclusively foster and adoptive parents. Our lack of biological children and our constant revolving door lead to that awkward silence when neighborhood conversation turns to parenting. I’ve been known to excuse myself when the talk turns to labor and delivery or the dreaded breast-feeding vs. bottle discussion.

Empty, awkward, silly, illegitimate. Sometimes, as an adoptive mom, I feel like I just don’t fit in.

A few years ago, my brother-in-law was celebrating his first Father’s Day with his newly placed foster son and daughter. After months of sleepless nights, a clinging toddler and a raging pre-schooler, he had earned this special day. He walked into church proudly with his beautiful family. As he was enjoying the hallmark holiday, someone leaned over to him and said, “Happy Father’s Day, I mean you’re like a pseudo-father, right?” Of course that’s not right but my brother-in-law didn’t defend his position. He accepted the misunderstanding, the ignorance and his role as an outsider.

So, if we live outside the norm, how will we ever know if we measure up? How will we know if we’ve had success?

In the 9 short years we were foster parents, we had 21 children walk through our doors. Eight of them stayed forever. Foster parenting is not glamorous and it typically doesn’t feel like a success. When you are a foster parent, you step into the darkest time in a family’s life. You get a front row seat to someone else’s embarrassment, shame and failure. Through court hearings, case conferences and supervised visits, we have only the goal of supporting a family through their turbulent time. We are distinctly separate from the biological family, yet deeply connected. When the case is finally over and a child is returned home or placed for adoption, it is likely the foster family will not be receiving a yearly Christmas card. Foster parents represent a memory most would rather forget. The success of a foster parent isn’t easily measured or publically recognized.

I know we don’t fit in, that’s a given, but do we measure up? Are we worth anything?

For me the answer came in the form of a phone call. It was late on a Monday night and I was settled in on the couch ready for a marathon of Netflix. The call was an invitation to our former foster son’s graduation from military school. It had been 8 years since he returned home from our care. His mom ended the conversation by saying this, “You guys will always be a part of my village… so it’s only fair that you see what you helped accomplish. I love you guys.”

The following Saturday we walked into the graduation, just as the graduates we’re lining up. There he was, a handsome, disciplined, young man, where last I saw an unruly child. I waved wondering if he would recognize me. I will never forget watching his composure crumble. He stepped out of line, tears streaming down his face and embraced each of us.

There it is, the answer to my question. What is the worth of a foster parent? Our worth is in the support we provide. It’s in the choice to extend grace. It’s in the second chances. Our worth is in the refusing to fit in. Our worth is in the acceptance of a different path. Our worth is found in the relationships we build and the people we are lucky enough to love.

Have you struggled to find your worth as a foster parent? Share your story with us.


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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.