The Reason I Disagree With A Foster Care Advertisement In Our City.

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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Let's not candy-coat it. It takes a lot to be a foster parent. It's completely worth it, but it's not a walk in the park and certainly not for the faint of heart. That's precisely the reason I disagreed with a foster care advertisement I saw recently.

I was driving my daughter, and some of her fellow students, to school the other day in our hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana enjoying a nearly perfect spring day. My mind bounced back and forth between all that I had to accomplish in the day and the excitement that I finally felt knowing winter was over. As we drove along the beautiful street, leading straight into the heart of our city, one particular sign, out of the thousands we passed, caught my attention.

In was posted in front of a building near the street, and it said, “Time. That’s all you need to be a foster parent.”

I drove a while longer, thinking about it, and processing it in my mind. I thought about the many years we spent in the system, caring for vulnerable children. I reminisced back to the dark days, where frustration and anxiety invaded our hearts and home like an army invading enemy forces. I replayed conversations with case managers that seemed to get us no where, and repeated outbursts from some of our children, in public places, that sent us running for our car.

And then I shook my head and whispered, “Wrong.” I’m sure the girls riding along quietly in my car couldn’t hear me, but the further I drove, the greater my disagreement with this advertisement grew. Frankly, it was misleading. Sure, you do need time. Lord knows, we gave a lot (I mean, A LOT) of time during our years of foster parenting. But that wasn’t all we gave, and it certainly wasn’t all it took to travel this journey, and do so with success.

So, later that day, I made a list of some of the other things I believe it takes to be a foster parent. Here’s what I came up with…

  1. Unconditional love. Fact is, this journey will test you. The children you are caring for will test you. It’s not because they intend to be bad, they’ve just come from a place of trauma (sometimes extreme) and they are speaking from that place. You must have a heart that is open to loving even when you receive nothing in return for it. And especially when you are pushed away by a child after giving the utmost love you have to them.
  2. Resilience. There will be more days than not, when you feel like giving up. You will look at your situation and feel hopeless. You’ll wonder why you signed up for this, if you’re making a difference, and if anyone in the system is actually listening to you, or cares that you are doing a great service. Resilience is the game-changer here because it keeps you moving even through the roughest storm.
  3. Time. Yes, you DO need this. There’s no question. You will end up giving lots of it over the course of your career as a foster parent. But time is accompanied with the rest of these points. It has to be. It cannot stand alone. Perhaps the sign I saw meant more, or maybe it was part of a campaign. Not sure. But, to leave it without explanation could lead someone down the wrong path if they’re not equipped with the entire reality.
  4. Belief. You must believe in yourself, your influence, the child you are caring for, and the difference this work is making in the world, even when the vast majority of the world will never acknowledge it. Believing in you, your influence, and the child in your care, goes a long way to finding success on this journey. Plus, it greatly impacts the child. He or she needs someone to believe in them. They need a cheerleader, even if it’s for a brief time.

There you have it: love, resilience, time and belief. I know there are so many more characteristics I could list here like patience, compassion, and servanthood (lets file those under love shall we?) to name a few, but these 4 coupled together paint a more accurate picture of what it really takes to be a foster parent.

Time? Yes. But time alone? Nope. The foster care journey is beautiful, amazing, and worth it! There’s no doubt in my mind. If you’re considering it and have the heart, time, resilience, and belief that you can make a difference, go for it. But, be ready. It will stretch you. That’s why I have to disagree with an advertisement that only paints one pixel of a much bigger picture.

Are you a foster parent? What else would you add to my list? Share your comments in the comment section below.

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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.