What It’s Like to Grow Up in a Foster Family

by Lydia Huth

Foster care was always a part of Nicole Spickard’s life. She herself had been fostered to adoption as an infant, and when she was nine, her family resumed fostering children.

“We were a very hands-on family,” she recalled. “As kids, we helped out. My mom made these little tickets, and for every diaper you changed, you’d get one. Once you got so many tickets, you could go see a movie or go shopping.”

Despite growing up in the mid-eighties, foster care wasn’t unusual for Spickard. “My best friend growing up was in a foster family through AGAPE, too,” she said. “She and I always had different kids in our families. It wasn’t unusual to be surrounded by all colors of skin at the dinner table.”

Other people in her community weren’t as accustomed to seeing foster families, however. Spickard remembered several instances where she and her brother faced disapproving looks from community members, especially while looking after foster children of another race. “One time, we were in an elevator, and I was holding one of the kids we had then,” Spickard said. “I remember everyone else in the elevator just turned and stared. My brother didn’t like things like that—my momma says he’s got this righteous indignation about it. Sometimes, he’d talk right back at the people staring.”

“Growing up in a foster family was a good learning experience for my brother and me,” Spickard said. Looking back, she said that it helped her make better decisions, and it helped both her and her brother have more compassion for how families can get into situations leading to foster care. “It’s not all abuse, and not everyone realizes that,” she noted.

As much as Spickard loved growing up in a foster family, she believes that fostering is for certain families in certain seasons of life. “I don’t know if I would be a foster mom right now,” she said. “I have two beautiful little girls with beautiful hearts, and I don’t want that to go away. I’d be concerned about certain situations that can come up—I never thought I’d be that mom, but I am!”

Fortunately, there are ways that all families can introduce their children to the lessons learned by foster families. “We do have one family at our church with foster kids, and those kids are in my daughter's class,” Spickard said. “They know that the parents are taking care of these kids for a while.” In any season of life, children can see their parents and their church family caring for children in the community.