October 16, 2015 | Fostering

shutterstock_81781318During the summers of my high school and college years, I worked as a lifeguard and taught kids to swim. It all started with a family friend who managed one of the textile mills in town. He had been an amazing college swimmer at North Carolina State.

John started teaching swimming lessons on the side. He had such a huge response that he soon needed an assistant. I was about fourteen or fifteen at the time, so it seemed like a good job for me. Plus, he taught at our house, so it was convenient! After a couple of summers, he left town to pursue the next phase of his career and left me with the swimming business.

John always began a new batch of kids’ lessons with a parent meeting. I’ll never forget him telling the parents that his goal was simply to get each kid from “Point A” to “Point B.” That each child’s beginning and ending places would likely be different. He didn’t make lofty promises. Nobody left the meeting with visions of college scholarships or Olympic medals. But he did promise that each child would make progress.

And each one did.

Over the past five years, Andy and I have discovered that foster care is a lot like swimming lessons. Each child is unique and comes into care at a different starting place. The goal of a great foster parent is to meet a child at her own “Point A” and lovingly coach and encourage her toward whatever “Point B” is uniquely hers.

Like Coach John, we don’t make promises we can’t keep. But we do work to ensure that every child who comes into care can take a next step—his or her own next step. Sometimes progress is imperceptible. On some days it feels like we’re going backwards. On those occasions we have to remind ourselves that even a temporary place of provision and safety with a picture of what a future can look like is progress.

Occasionally, the time a child spends with a foster parent or foster family is life changing. His progress is astounding. Instead of a short A to B, he makes huge strides and finds himself much further along on the continuum.

Either way, the common denominator for foster kids who make progress is time—not necessarily the length of time in foster care, but the time spent with caring adults who made them feel worth it.

It’s not rocket science. It’s not even swimming lessons. It’s simply time invested in a kid or two as they discover their Point A’s and journey along to their Point B’s.



Tifani Thompson - October 17, 2015 at 05:32 pm

I loved reading this post. I always get SO pumped-up reading all you share about fostering, and then sharing it all with others too. That picture of the Carson family and those sweet little treasures gave me chills and chills and chills. What a precious blessing!

“The value of life is always measured by how much of it was given away.”-Andy’s happy series was just INCREDIBLE,,,,as they all are.

Janet - October 20, 2015 at 04:02 am

This is a good word! Thanks! We start foster care classes tonight. My plate is so full but the need is so great, I’m confident that God will provide strength and wisdom for us to follow through.

Marti - November 02, 2015 at 04:46 pm

This was a very timely post for me. My husband and I have just finished our home study with Bethany. Our hope is to foster to adopt an older child as we could not have children. We are excited about becoming parents.

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