If you are a foster parent, you have probably heard at least one person say some version of “God bless you. I don’t know that I could do that.” Rent-a-Dad and I have heard that phrase so often that we don’t even blink anymore if it is said. In all honesty… it is just fine with us if you admit that.

For the first year, as foster parents, when I heard some version of that phrase I would jump into explaining my choice to be a foster parent and talking up the rewards. I really wanted others to see the positives of being a foster parent. Perhaps even help convince others considering fostering to take that final leap.

Sometime into the second year I began just saying “thank you” and leave it at that unless questions were asked. Most times questions were asked.

This past spring, I flip flopped between being actively pro-fostering and pro-privacy.

After several conversations, both with foster parents and those who have no thought of ever fostering, and sitting on several foster parent panels, I now have a new take on and response to that phrase.

Being a foster parent is NOT for everyone.

There is no shade or hate in that statement, nor is there any judgment.

Being a foster parent takes a special commitment that not everyone can handle. It is just as important to admit (acknowledge) what you can not do as it is to acknowledge what you can.

As a seasoned foster parent, someone in the “trenches”, we have this part of us that knows how taxed the system is and how spread thin foster parents are. We have this second nature to nurture and protect others, and ourselves.

Naturally we want others to stretch themselves and reach out to become foster parents. It helps everyone involved.

Yes, being a foster parent WILL change a child’s life.

But if at any point you question your ability to foster, then don’t do it.

I have said the same thing about marriage to friends who have asked how I knew Rent-a-Dad was the one. It’s not that I didn’t have doubts about marriage in general or that I wondered if the timing of getting married was right. Everyone has doubts. What I knew was this: I couldn’t imagine my life with anyone else. When ever I tried to really picture someone else as my partner I felt physically ill. Doesn’t mean we are a perfect match and never have any relationship issues. Hint: All couples fight about something. I just couldn’t imagine not spending my life with Rent-a-Dad.

For me being a foster parent was a bit of the same thing. It has always been about timing not questioning the actual act of fostering. I have always wanted to be a foster parent and had no doubt that someday it would happen, when the timing was right.

If at some point, any point, I had any doubts then I would have put the brakes on.

Being a foster parent takes commitment, reliability, accountability, love, attachment and so much more. Some of these qualities come naturally to people. For others it is a struggle to tick off a few boxes. Sometimes having an abundance of one will overcome any challenges or struggles with the other qualities.

Regardless of any of these qualities, knowing yourself is the key.

If you don’t think you can be a foster parent and freely admit that then I admire you for knowing what you can not do.


I would much rather someone admit that than know they can not do something, absolutely do NOT want to do something, and try it anyway.

Kids in the system deserve to have people committed to them. They do not need people who are trying to be something they know they can not be. That only hurts everyone.

I once thought a foster trainer was being a little harsh when she made a similar remark but she wasn’t wrong. Being a foster parent involves a lot of harsh truths. If you can not take harsh truths, then definitely walk away. With that in mind, Rent-a-Dad and I have put our heads together to come up with five topics a couple should consider if they are trying to decide if becoming a foster parent is really something they should do.

3 thoughts on “It is OK to Admit You Don’t Want to be a Foster Parent

  1. CJ says:

    As an experienced foster and adoptive parent, I agree with most of what you have said. However, I do take issue with the statement “if at any point you question your ability to foster, then don’t do it.” In addition to my foster and adopted children, I also have biological children, and I would be surprised to find a parent alive who hasn’t questioned their ability to be a parent at some point in their parenting journey. I think the same is true for fostering. There are times that are hard- very hard. And it may make you question your ability to do a good job, to love and care for them the way they need to be- and sometimes, SOMETIMES, that might mean they need specialized care beyond what you can offer. But, just like with regular parenting, we don’t know it all up front. It is a journey for both adult and child. We may mess up or feel hopeless sometimes, but I think some of the beauty of fostering is in sticking it out, and not giving up- on yourself or the child. Showing you are in it through the good times and the bad. Showing that you don’t always do it perfectly, and apologizing and forgiving and moving on to a new day. Being able to discuss these challenges with fellow foster parents has been one of the most helpful things for me, because they’re get it, and I don’t feel alone then. Our fostering journey ended this past spring as we adopted our foster daughter, and we have a houseful of 7 kids now. They keep us hopping and learning, but we are in it together.

    1. Nicci says:

      I want to thank you for sharing your perspective and congratulations on your full house! 

      The problem with blanket statements is that they don’t take every aspect into consideration and can’t actually cover everything.  You are absolutely right that one would be hard pressed to find a parent that never had doubts. We’ve heard similar things from friends and family who are biological, adoptive, and foster parents so it seems like it comes with the territory.

      We have been blessed in that our fostering experiences have been mostly positive, albeit a bit bumpy, and that we feel rewarded even through all of the hardships. I want to encourage and nurture others to be foster parents. The system needs more foster parents. 

      That said, I also want to provide a reality check and to let others know its OK to not foster. Choosing to foster should involve a lot of thought and consideration. Too often those taking a step back from fostering or choosing not to foster are chastised for their choice. 

      Providing that balance of encouragement with the right dose of reality can be a struggle.

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