‘I’m sure he’s cried for me, searched for me. I’m guilty and heartbroken.’: Mom candidly addresses ‘foster parent guilt’

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“Today marks one week since I had to give him back.

You’ve probably heard being a foster parent is rewarding. You’ve probably heard it is challenging. You’ve probably heard there is grief in saying goodbye. You’ve probably heard there is joy in knowing we were there when it counted.

But have you heard of ‘foster parent‘ guilt?

I hadn’t. In fact, since I’ve been fostering, I still haven’t heard anyone mention it. This is the first I’ve spoken of it.

You see, I had this sweet little love until Thursday of last week.

He came to us at three weeks old. He had to have an extended stay in the hospital to help his little body detox, followed by two failed placement attempts with relatives… they gave him back to CPS, twice.

I remember his perfect little face, fingers, and toes on the day he came HOME. Now he’s almost six months old. He’s finally sleeping through the night. Two weeks ago he rolled over for the first time, and he’s almost sitting up on his own! He’s devouring any solid food he can get his cute, chubby little hands on.

He is a real smiler; it literally goes from ear to ear. He can’t help it. He is my happy boy. He looks to me for comfort and security. You see, I was his constant. I was his safe place. I was his everything, until last Thursday.

My home was the only one he’s ever known. My arms were the ones he’s happiest in. My voice is the one that calmed him. My family was his family. He trusted me totally, completely, utterly, unquestionably.

And what shatters my heart is that I had to betray his trust. He wasn’t mine to keep. I know that – BUT HE DIDN’T.

This last week has been a blur. The long awaited court hearing has come and gone. I found out the home approval had last minute been approved for another relative. The judge approved moving my boy yet again to more relatives.

I had two hours after the court hearing to pack what I could, say goodbye, and drop my baby off in an unfamiliar town, in a strange parking lot with more caseworkers. I watched as they drove away with him searching for ME! The guilt is crushing.

I had to give him back.

And as much as that hurt me, the thing I can’t bear is how it has hurt him. How his little innocent heart, which believed I would protect him from everything, is now so deeply and irreparably hurt by me.

Please don’t be quick to jump and tell me not to feel guilty. Don’t say it’s not my fault. Don’t remind me of the good I’ve done and how that will set him up so well. Because in my head I know these things. I know them. But however true they are, they can’t change the facts.

Foster care will always, always be second best. And moving these already broken little people on to yet another home will always, always cause even more trauma. It’s unavoidable. It’s not my fault, yes – but I am still caught up in the process. And it is still me who had to look into those sparkling, big, brown, beautiful eyes, so full of trust and love… and then hand him over to strangers, and leave.

I’m sure he has cried for me. He has searched for me. He feels abandoned by me.

So yes, I am guilty. And I am heartbroken. And so incredibly sad and sorry for the unfairness of this world.

But there is hope. And faith. And love. And in the truest, wisest book ever written we are told love is the greatest.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jessica Amparan of At The Willow Tree. You can follow her journey on Facebook and Instagram. Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.

Read more foster care stories:

‘They chose us. They’re coming in two hours!’: Couple shares unexpected sibling adoption from foster care

Biological Dad Gains Full Custody Of Son, Hires Loving Foster Mom As Babysitter So She Can Remain In His Life

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