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What it Means to be a Foster Parent


More than 200 children in Tennessee , like Sierra, pictured here, are in search of forever families. Please visit the Heart Gallery of Tennessee to learn more . Photo by Allison Rodgers Photography.

By Darlene Brown

What does  Foster Parenting Mean to Me?

At First ...

  • Foster parenting means getting a call at 2 a.m. to accept children into our home, climbing out of bed and throwing on sweats to ready a room before the children arrive.
  • Foster parenting means witnessing hurt and pain beyond belief as a child opens up and tells you of their past trauma.
  • Foster parenting means constant juggling of medical, dental, therapist and specialist appointments in addition to meetings and court dates.
  • Foster parenting means sleepless nights to comfort a scared child who wakens with night terrors, wet beds or other "accidents" and then trudging off to work the next morning with just a tad bit more make-up on to camouflage the bags from the sleepless night.

During ...

  • Foster parenting means opening a child's mind and heart to a new environment full of love and new activities and watching as they delight in each new experience.
  • Foster parenting means opening your heart as well to a parent who truly loves their child yet struggles with emotional or economic hardship, mental illness or addiction.
  • Foster parenting means sharing in a child’s joy as they sleep for the first time without a light on, or take their first step , or speak their first word.

After ...

  • Foster parenting means preparing a child to return home and then crying alone in your empty home when they depart.
  • Foster parenting means saying a prayer each night for their well-being and delight when someone shares a happy encounter with a former foster child.

Why be a Foster Parent?

Because no matter how busy your schedule is, how trying the behaviors are, how difficult the transitions are or how full your hands are, your heart is fuller than anything beyond belief for making a difference in the life of a child in need.

Darlene Brown and her husband, Robert, are foster parents in Tennessee. They have been foster parents to 30 children in the last five years.

For more information on becoming a foster parent, please visit our foster care web pages.