But here's the thing - very often perfectly good foster homes sit empty. So, is there really a huge need for foster homes? The anicdotal evidence seems to vary depending on geographic area. In some areas of the country foster parents report that they can't go more than a day with an empty bed. In other areas of the country, people can go literally years without a single phone call. Of course, phone calls come more often depending on how open the foster parents are to accepting harder-to-place children: special needs, medical needs, sibling groups, and older children.
Waiting for children to foster is frustrating, to say the least. We've bought into this general cultural belief that there is a huge need for foster homes. We go through all the training. We prepare our home. And then we sit and wait and wait and wait.
But even if the "huge need" for foster homes doesn't match what we imagined in our heads (hoards of adorable children sitting around just waiting for us to go pick them out), I still believe that there is a huge need for good foster homes. We've all heard foster home horror stories, and luckily those situations are the exception. But the sad truth is that many foster parents are perfectly adequate. They keep the children alive and relatively safe. But they're unwilling to take the extra steps that are necessary to help these traumatized children to heal and become productive members of society. Our country's most hurt and vulnerable children are living in homes where they're fed, clothed, and sent to school. But no one is hugging them. No one kisses their boo-boos. No one affirms the beauty and light that they bring to the world. Children need love in order to thrive every bit as much as they need food and water.
Every good foster home that comes into the system - every home that's willing to hug and support and affirm and love a child - is one less adequate home in the system. So I continue to do my part to recruit kind and loving people to become foster parents. Can you imagine a world where all the amazing families are holding a space in their home for an extra child in need? Can you imagine a world where those beds sit empty, because there are more good homes than there are children in need? That is a truly beautiful world.