“No Such Thing as Too Loved…”
In honor of Foster Care Awareness Month and Mother’s Day, we are sharing the stories of seven amazing parents through foster care. These parents inspire and challenge us! We are so grateful for their dedication and love.
Lisa Blackmore has been passionate about foster care since she was a teenager. That’s when her family started welcoming babies into their home – seven different babies over the course of her young adulthood. The goal was never to adopt – her parents had five biological children already – but the experience of caring for little ones whose parents couldn’t currently take care of them left an impression on Lisa; she always wanted to be a foster parent herself.
She and her family have now been a licensed foster home for three and a half years. Lisa, her husband Morgan and their two biological children (Xavier, 8 and Finley, 10) have cared for five baby boys during that time. Most have stayed for a short time but one, the child they are currently caring for who we’ll call Philip*, has been with them for two and a half years. He came to live with them as an infant and has been in their care ever since.
Two weeks old to almost age three is an essential time in a child’s development and Lisa is honored and proud to have been able to love and care for – and attach – to this sweet boy during that time. And though some of her friends balk, Lisa is also proud to say that Philip will soon be returning to live with his father.
For those hoping to make a permanent or “forever family” the Blackmores story with Philip might sound like a nightmare: caring for, loving and bonding with a baby only to have them leave your home. But for Lisa, this is exactly how foster care is supposed to work.
The Importance of Attachment
People often tell her they are afraid of getting too attached to be able to good foster parents. Lisa is clear about her stance on this: “Attaching is good!” she exclaims. “If you have a fear of getting too attached that’s probably a healthy sign that your heart would be open enough to be a good foster parent.”
“What if I’d not attached to him?!” she exclaims. “What if I’d not sung him lullabies, read him stories, given him snuggles?” These are essential parts of him learning love and trust, she points out. Without attaching, without learning that people love him and can be trusted at that early age, Philip’s emotional development could be severely stunted, affecting his entire life. Kids in foster care desperately need that kind of love, Lisa insists. “There is no such thing as too loved.”
Not that it’s easy, she says. Offering that kind of love requires a great deal of vulnerability and emotional challenge for foster parents. Lisa is certain it’s worthwhile, for the good of the child.
Families Need Care
Part of why Lisa can accept reunification as a successful completion to foster care is the empathy she’s developed – her ability to put herself in the shoes of parents working to have their children returned to them. “What if I were the biological parent?” she asks. Amara works with all our licensed foster families to help them build empathy and understanding for families of kids in foster care. We believe children are best served when foster families and biological family work to understand and value each other.
The Blackmore’s efforts to build relationships with the families of children in their care have increased this empathy – and more. “You get to know parents, and you become part of their cheerleading team,” Lisa notes. “You think you’re in it just to help the kids then you get to know the parents too and go from wanting to take care of a child to caring for a family unit.” They’ve noticed how circumstances and systems surrounding families of kids in foster care sometimes seemed stacked against them: “These families need care,” Lisa says.
For the Blackmores, their positive feelings about Philip’s reunification stem from the relationship they’ve built with his father. Beginning with visits when Philip was very small, the Blackmores met his father, exchanged notes about Philip’s growth and development and gradually came to know and trust each other. “He is fun, funny, gregarious, and nurturing,” Lisa says. “And he’s had hard life circumstances and made some poor choices.” But they believe in him and believe it is best for Philip to be in his care.
And they’ve made plans for the future. Lisa intends to volunteer in Philip’s kindergarten classroom, attend his graduation – and as much as possible in between! They have a great relationship with Philip’s dad and have even discussed having Philip and his father come visit them if they achieve their dream of living overseas. Lisa feels confident that their relationship will continue with Philip after reunification because his father, “is an amazing guy!”
Three Homes for Every Child
After three and a half years and a life-changing commitment to Philip and his family, Lisa is no less passionate about foster care than she was as a teenager. She speaks with joy about the positive experiences her biological children had through fostering; how they’ve learned important lessons like “it’s not all about you” and “we take care of people in our community.”
And she is incredibly passionate about the need for more foster families. Currently, there are not enough homes for kids in need of care and Lisa fervently believes in a world where this looks very different. “Can you imagine how amazing it would be if there were three open homes for every child in foster care?” she asks. “There’d be more of a support group, kids would be more secure, and we’d be able to find a better fit for each child,” she goes on excitedly.
It’s a beautiful vision that Amara fully supports and works toward every day! We believe this vision is possible with the committed efforts of families like the Blackmores. Thank you, Lisa, Morgan, Finley & Xavier!
*Name changed to protect identity