Kris Corner – Losing Yourself

June 24, 2024

Something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, and I want to share with you is the caution of not getting lost in being a foster parent. What I mean by that is before you’re a foster parent, you are a “regular person”. You have interests. You might have hobbies. You have friends and/or family. You have a life, quite frankly, that does not revolve around meeting special needs of a child coming from trauma.

But for me, personally, by diving in and taking on a child with high medical needs, over time I kind of got lost in that. It became my identity. It seems like people, including myself, thought of myself as a foster parent first and then as a person in general second. I don’t know if that makes sense, but my point is I was so entrenched in it, that it took me a while to realize when it was time to step out of that.

I felt like I had lost my identity in a way and. Just wasn’t sure who I would be if I wasn’t a foster parent. I didn’t know how people would perceive me if they didn’t think of me as a foster parent. I had admittedly become prideful because I read a lot about trauma and TBRI and all the things, and I enjoyed when people asked me questions because I love learning and sharing what I’ve learned.

What I failed to realize was that people didn’t really see me any differently when I was no longer a foster parent; the hangup was my own. They still understood that I had information to share and experiences that had shaped and molded me, as well as my family, and it didn’t matter that I no longer held the title of “foster parent.“

And that through this process, I have realized that I don’t need that title or label or whatever it is. Plus I realized that because I’d been so wrapped up in being a foster parent that other things in my life which I used to enjoy, had taken a backseat.

But once I didn’t have the foster parent label, I felt a sort of freedom to step back into those things. Crafting, for instance. When I was caring for a medically-fragile infant and toddler, there was zero time for that. I wanted to do it, and I knew it would be a good outlet for me, but I really did not have the time. Well, I did not make the time. But since taking a step back, and realizing my absorption with foster care, I have been able to tap back into that part of me that I really missed.

In a way, when I became a foster parent, I almost became one dimensional, and that’s all I could see myself as. (It’s not a healthy way to view things, in case you were wondering.) We are each multi-faceted individuals with lots of interests and skills and abilities. And when you lose yourself to one piece of you, and makes everything else kind of fade away.

So I guess more than anything, this is a bit of a cautionary tale…to pay attention to the things that you enjoy, prior to foster care, and make sure you stay rooted in them. Put it on the calendar if you have to. I’m a big “calendar and list” kind of girl. If it’s on the list or if it’s on the calendar, I’m going to make it happen. Some of you may be the same way.

Or maybe you would be better to have an accountability partner of sorts. Someone you enjoy other activities with who can keep you rooted in them…and who can keep encouraging you to stay involved and connected.

Regardless of how you do it, I encourage you to NOT lose yourself completely to being a foster parent, even though it can be easy to do; those other parts of you can be life-giving and life-changing when you experience the challenges of foster parenting.