7 Things You Should Never Say To A Foster Parent

Dr. John DeGarmo
6 min readFeb 28, 2022

They are meant as words of comfort and words of support. However, so many times, the words are hurtful, instead.

During my years as a foster parent, I have had the privilege of having over 60 children come to live in my home, and become a part of my family. Without a doubt, I would never have been able to do it if it were not for the support of my friends and family. Yet, I also understand that these same people truly do not understand how the foster care system works. Indeed, before I was a foster parent, I was the same way. I simply did not understand the foster care system.

With that in mind, here are 7 things one should never say to a foster parent; 7 statements that might be offensive to those who have given their lives to helping children in need. More importantly, these comments hurt the children that are living with us, causing them further grief, anxiety, and emotional trauma.

1. Which child belongs to you?
In my home, there are no labels. There is no biological child, no adoptive child, no foster child. They are all my children, and I love them unconditionally. Each child living in my home is a member of my family. As foster parents, we can protect the child from harm, provide a safe and secure home, offer nutritious meals, and open up a doorway of opportunities for foster children, granting them new and exciting experiences that they may never have dreamed of.

Yet, with all of this, with all of the wonderful opportunities and safe environments, foster children really crave love the most. They want to be loved, and they need to be loved in order to grow. After all, every child deserves to be loved.

2. I couldn’t do what you do. I would get too attached.
My response is this; “That’s a good thing. It is supposed to hurt. My heart is supposed to break! These children need me to hurt for them.

To be sure, children in foster care need stability and they need security. Yet, what they need the most is to be loved. As foster parents, we might the first adults who have ever loved the child in a healthy and unconditional fashion. Sadly, for some children, we may be the only adults who will ever love the child in this fashion, in an unconditional manner. So, when…

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Dr. John DeGarmo

Leading foster care expert and international empowerment speaker