Marriage and Foster Parenting: Making it Work

Dr. John DeGarmo
4 min readApr 17

I looked at the clock and groaned a little to myself when I saw that it was 3:30 AM. I had just arrived back home an hour and a half ago, 2 AM, from a foster parent training seminar I had just conducted in bright, sunny California. The travel back to Georgia, where I live, had been a long one, and I was a little tired. Yet, our newest foster child, a tiny baby, was crying in the next room, and needed feeding. He was only four pounds when he came to us, up two pounds from when he was born, ten weeks premature. When he first arrived at our house late one night in early May, the tiny infant was on a heart monitor, and was so very week and fragile. As he was so very small and premature, he desperately needed to put on some weight and gain strength. Therefore, our little foster baby was up pretty much every hour and a half each night, all night long, letting us know he wanted a bottle.

I had been away from home while in California for a few days, and my wife had seen to all of the child care while I was gone. At the moment, we only had 7 children in the house, and our older children were helping out with the younger ones. Nevertheless, when it came time to feed the little one each night, all night long, my wife was on duty while I was away. Normally, we take turns each night, as we try to split our responsibilities as parents 50/50, or in half. Now, at 3:30 in the morning, my first desire was to sleep, as I had just put my head on the pillow, as I was quite tired from the weekend on the West Coast, and the day’s travel. Yet, I knew that my wife was tired, as well, from her weekend as a single parent. I gladly got out of bed, and fed the infant, and did so again at 5 AM, as well. After all, my wife and I are in this together, and it is a partnership that I do not take for granted. For me, the partnership with my wife is essential in so many ways, and I would not be a good foster parent if not for her.

Sadly, many marriages suffer during the foster process. When you are putting much of your energies and time into your foster child, you may be so drained and exhausted that you soon neglect your spouse. Further complicating this, some foster children are skilled…

Dr. John DeGarmo

Leading foster care expert and international empowerment speaker