I grew up in a family where we cared for foster children. I am a biological child and I have two sisters who were adopted. I have been asked so many times in my life what it was like to be raised in a family where there were foster children, so I thought I would write about my experience for others who might be interested.

The simple answer is that it was all I knew and for the most part wonderful. My mother would say that she practically raised her little brother and while that remains to be proven, she loved children and babies more than life itself. So when my parents got married they began trying to have children. After nearly three years of trying, they came to the conclusion that fostering and adoption were on their hearts to pursue. At first, they opened their home to a couple of teenage girls. I always admired that about them. That so young in their married lives that did what many people would never find the courage to do. Then my sister came along. My parents got her the second day she was alive. Loved her like their own and hoped to adopt her. A few months later, my mother found out she was pregnant with me. Her children would be only a little over a year apart. To be honest, I’m not sure of all the details of how my mother felt about having two children so close together but I can imagine she was a bit overwhelmed.

After I came along, many people would have stopped fostering there. My parents had two daughters they could call their own. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with this mindset, my parents chose to continue fostering some teenage girls for a while longer. My memories of them are faint at best but pictures and stories told help me to remember these girls who changed my parents lives in many ways.

My sister was adopted when she was about 2 years old and my parents were elated. My sister’s jet black hair was cut at her ears and it fell stick straight with her green eyes.

My parents continued to have a heart for fostering and as I grew foster children came in and out of our home, shaping us in different ways. My parents would go to monthly foster meetings, where we’d hang out in the basement while they would attend trainings on how to be better foster parents.

When I was 17, a foster baby came into our home. She was precious and so tiny. Our family fell in love with her quickly, and eventually we adopted her into our family as well. She is my younger sister. She loves others well and we are so grateful for her.

To be honest, I don’t know a different life than this one. When children came to our home, I would learn about the stories of why they were there. I’d hear stories of other foster children in our community. And I think it grew within me a deep understanding of empathy and the complexities of human beings.

As foster children grew older, we would sometimes see each other again. Some of them had deep life struggles because of the trauma they had experienced. Yet they are thriving and excelling at different things in life. That gave me an understanding of how life isn’t perfect, we all struggle with challenges. Life is messy and hard but we all have something to share with the world. Some people’s wounds are deeper than others, and from their wounds they can choose to heal, rise, and share with the world their truths and gifts.

No doubt my passion for social sciences came from my upbringing and I am so thankful for the playmates, life lessons, and challenges that came with living in such a household.

Because my parents chose to foster children, they taught me that while no one is perfect, all people deserve love and to be treated equally. I learned that people come in and out of our lives often, its an ebb and flow. While we have an opportunity to know them, we should love them well and know them well.