Erica Burt, a mom from Phenix City, AL, knows that fostering kids can be an emotional roller coaster. In a touching Facebook post, she detailed how, regardless of the training and support you receive, there are some moments you can never be prepared for when it comes to foster parenting. Case in point? When one of her foster sons asks if he could call her "mom."
"It was 12:50 p.m. A short 18 hours after taking in a new sibling placement," she wrote. "I was making lunch, kids were chatting at the table, waiting on me to deliver their homemade lunch (that's a joke, unless meticulously making a pizza Lunchable counts!), and then it happened. 'Can I call you Mom?' Nothing prepares you for it. No training, no mentor, no seasoned foster parent stories, nothing. My heart hit my feet in this very moment. The amount of emotions that flooded me can not even be counted."
"I was scared to make sure my response was the right one and was quick, certain, and without stuttering since I was totally not expecting this conversation," she explained. "I was happy to know he felt comfortable, loved, and safe enough to want to call me mom. And I felt gut-wrenching sadness to know that there is a biological mom out there who is missing out on so much and has to be deeply hurting inside regardless of her own faults."
"Nothing prepares you for it. No training, no mentor, no seasoned foster parent stories, nothing."
Later the same day, Erica's husband got asked the same question. "Today, I heard 'mom' more in seven hours than I have in a very long time. He wore it out. I almost wondered if he looked for reasons to say mom," she said. "And then friends, it happened yet again. At 6:24 p.m. loading into the Burt Bus, my husband was helping the littles up into the back while I was in the driver's seat cranking up the van, when I heard it. 'Can I call you 'Dad?'"
Although Erica didn't say anything in the moment, her heart swelled with happiness. "Neither him nor my husband could see my face," she shared. "But I sunk into the seat with the biggest smile while I held my breath waiting to hear my husband's response, after the almost certain shock that had just grabbed him. I have no idea why I looked at the clock both times this happened today. I never have before. But I did today and I wanted to share."
Now, Erica is encouraging other families to consider fostering little ones. Because though you can't possibly plan for every moment, there are some unforgettable instances that will take you pleasantly by surprise.
"If you've ever thought of becoming a foster parent, I encourage you to take the leap!" she wrote. "And if you really truly aren't 'sure,'. . . I encourage you to attend an orientation meeting for foster parent training. It's not a commitment, there's no obligation! But it's a wonderful way to hear and learn more. Six years ago I didn't realize foster care was a big deal in our area. But friends, I'm here to tell you from my personal experience, there are kids RIGHT HERE who have lived in hell on earth, whose stories would have your mind spinning and stomach in knots. They need you. They need your love. If you've thought about being a foster parent. Don't wait. Do it. I promise you won't regret it."