Guest post by Brad Weaver, a foster parent with Children’s Network of Southwest Florida, DCF Circuit 20
Most people who enter foster parenting do so because they want to unselfishly give of themselves to love and care for abused children in need. After they become foster parents, they realize that love as an emotion is not all they will have to give. Foster parents, as any parents, will learn the art of sacrifice. They will need to give of themselves for these children who come into foster care through no fault of their own.
We need to ask ourselves each day, “Who and what are filling our emotional needs? Do we take time each day to nurture ourselves? Are we getting sufficient rest? Are we eating appropriately and getting enough exercise? Do we take time each day to do something we enjoy? Are we listening to, and depending on the core support people in our lives?”
Many of us know the story of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. It is a tale about a relationship between a young boy and a tree. The tree always provides the boy with what he wants: branches on which to swing, shade in which to sit and apples to eat. As the boy grows older, he requires more and more of the tree. The tree loves the boy very much and gives him anything he asks for. In an ultimate act of self-sacrifice, the tree lets the boy cut it down so the boy can build a boat in which he can sail. The boy leaves the tree; now a stump. Many years later, the boy returns as an old man and the tree sadly says: “I’m sorry, boy … but I have nothing left to give you.” But the boy replies: “I do not need much now, just a quiet place to sit and rest.” The tree then says, “Well, an old tree stump is a good place for sitting and resting. Come, boy, sit down and rest.” The boy obliges and the tree was very happy.
For the abused children in our care, we may serve as the place of childhood dreams. We may be the vehicle that allows them to sail through the stormy seas of life with confidence. We may be the place where they can come and rest. In the eyes of the children we care for, we are not unnoticed, we are not unappreciated. They desire to take nothing from us, but they cannot go on unless we give them our unconditional love which is not just the art of sacrifice, but the heart of sacrifice.
To find out more about fostering in Florida, visit www.fosteringflorida.com.