You Know What Surprises Me Most As A Foster Parent?

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Out of all the twists, turns, triumphs, and defeats that are often a part of the foster care journey, there are beautiful blessings in disguise when you least expect it.

*Editor’s Note- This is a guest post by our good friend Lisa Qualls. She is a writer, speaker, mom of 12, and the creator of One Thankful Mom, where she writes about motherhood, adoption, faith, and grief. Lisa is a mom by birth and adoption. Along with her husband Russ, their adoption journey has been marked by joy as well as challenges of trauma and attachment. You can visit her blog here, and connect with her on Facebook here.

You know what surprises me most – what I would never have expected? The relationship we have with my Zoe’s* family.

Last week Zoe’s mom had one of her regular weekly visits with Zoe and her sisters, but this time it was at our house. When I arrived to pick her up, she had ingredients for a meal packed in grocery bags, ready to cook for her kids when she got here. The little girls were dropped off by their foster mom and quickly ran outside to play with my son while their mom cooked and chatted with Zoe at the kitchen island.

I came and went from the kitchen as I worked on my own Saturday tasks. Zoe’s family doesn’t need supervision, just a comfortable place to gather. After eating and playing, Zoe’s family watched a movie together with some of my kids joining in. There were a few tears when it was time for the little girls to leave.

Later in the week, we moms sat in the car watching our daughters at track practice- Zoe tentatively running hurdles and Claire practicing pole vault plants for the first time. We talked about being teens ourselves, and running, and addiction, and about our girls. We made plans to go to the first track meet together later that week.

This is not what I thought foster care would look like.

Mind you, I knew nearly nothing about foster care when we embarked on this journey. We were recruited one evening, nine months ago, and have done everything pretty much backward.

I thought we would be nearly anonymous to our foster daughter’s family; they wouldn’t know our last name or have our phone number. They definitely wouldn’t know where we live.

I’m fully aware that some families aren’t safe for children; that’s why the kids are in foster care. I’m also aware that children land in foster care for many reasons, some of those being addiction, a cascade of bad decisions, incarceration, abuse, and the list goes on.

Many parents, with support, treatment, education, and other resources can turn their situation around and become healthy parents for their children.

Not all – I can see some of you saying, not even many. I know I’m the new foster mom on the block and maybe I’ll be writing a very different post a few years from now, but I want to hope for the very best for moms, dads, and kids.

Once they’re reunified, these families need a lot of support. Regaining custody of their children is only the beginning. We need to wrap around them, giving them the help they need to press on.

We need to wrap around them, giving them the help they need to press on. ~Lisa Qualls

Parenting is Hard.

Parenting is a hard task – right? It was very hard for me when my children were little and there were so many needs.

And you know what? I had a husband who came home every single night. He earned an income and provided a home for us. He never hurt me. He never hurt our kids. He didn’t abandon us or bring dangerous people into our home. He didn’t abuse drugs or alcohol. I didn’t fear homelessness or wonder if I could feed my children.

I have not experienced what so many of these parents have lived through. The wounds they carry, the suffering of their own childhood, is likely more than we can imagine.

Open-Hearted Foster Parents.

Let’s be open-hearted foster parents. We can be part of their team as they work toward reunification, and if it isn’t possible, we can still have compassion, extend kindness, and support them if possible.

We live in a world filled with broken, hurting people. Let’s find the points of connection wherever we can and build on them.

[*Zoe is the nickname our foster daughter chose to use on my blog. ]

Are you a foster parent (or have been one)? What has surprised you most about the journey? Share 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.