For the first time, you can hear Grandpa Loves Rhino’s “Fostering Patience for Patients” track here with us.
“My wife and I did foster care for a year… and it messed us up,” the band explains.
“It started with excitement as a noble call from God to help the broken kids out there. We wanted to break their cycle of trauma—stop hurt people from hurting people. We knew it would be tough but, hey, we were awesome parents, super capable and loving.
“Foster care sucks. It sucks for everyone: the kids, the biological parents, the foster parents, and the state workers. These foster kids needed so much, and we gave and gave and gave, over and over. Despite all the training, our parenting, and attempts at showing love, it felt like the kids pretty much rejected everything we had to offer. We invited hurt, depressed, abusive, and disruptive people into our home. What ensued was total madness. You are not responsible for all the sin that these kids inherited or went through, but you get to deal with all the consequences.
“Despite our best efforts, it left me feeling very hopeless and angry that these kids might not become all that I wanted them to be. After getting ignored, spat in the face, punched, disrespected, our biological kids being hurt by the foster kids, you think things that make you realize, ‘I’m no saint’. All I wanted to do was help. It humbled us also to think that we’re not these perfect, loving, awesome parents.
“The short story is that after a year, I made the decision to put in our notice that we couldn’t do it anymore. It felt like we gave up our lives for these kids for a year, and then gave up on them because I wanted my life back. The stress of it was too much, and my mental health was not in a good place. I have to hope that some good came out of a year of what felt like torture. I was messed up, thinking about how much I grew to dislike them for ‘ruining my happiness.’
“Then came the guilt of taking care of myself and my family above other people who actually need help. I’m still left with the thought of what God would have me do … is it even about me? Should I be able to just fight through the feelings of misery, hardship, depression? If not me, who is going to care for the unwanted kids? Who will care for the abandoned kids and show them that they matter?
“Although it was maybe one of the worst years of my adult life, the three things I learned are this: 1) ‘love’ is an action (taking care of them, welcoming them into your home, driving them places, trying to teach them things) that doesn’t have to go along with a good feeling despite what I felt day-to-day (inconvenienced, uncaring, not appreciated, etc.); 2) It shows me how incredible the love that God has for his kids is when we do the same thing to him, yet he never fails, never leaves, never stops loving us; and 3) We need more foster parents.
“I could only give one year before it took me out. Just because I got wounded and taken out of the war doesn’t mean I’m a bad soldier. It means I need to get healing, send reinforcements to jump into the fight after me, and maybe I’ll be able to get back in it someday.
“The song describes our experience of foster care … trying to help someone who is seriously hurt (and fighting your help) with some inadequate methods because we thought we were awesome. In the end, we gave up. If only there was something bigger than us that won’t give up. Good news, there is.”