I’m Their Other Mother, but You’re Their Mom

An open letter to the mother of her foster children, from their “other” mother

I'm Their Other Mother, but You're Their Mom | Houston Moms Blog

I think of you often. I probably shouldn’t and I told myself multiple times that I wouldn’t, but here we are. Especially nestled in the quiet. When it’s “rest time” and they are both miraculously {blissfully} asleep and I cling to my mug which I’ve now reheated at least three times, I think about you. With every nose that I wipe, tear that I dry, ticklefest that ensues, or bedtime story that I read—that’s something that you have now missed. Although I am collecting these small moments and locking them away {and filling up my photo card like a mad woman} while attempting not to crack under the weight of difficult ones, I know my days with them are numbered. Because the heart of it is, you’re their mom.

I’m here, standing in the gap for now

Like the third man during the relay race, I’ve been tagged in just when the baton got too heavy. For an unknown amount of time, I’ll DJ the dance parties, chauffeur to birthday parties, mend hurts, build block towers, play princess ponies, and make lunches—but I’m temporary—and we all know it.

Every day I am acutely aware that our little “family” is living on borrowed time. But sometimes, just briefly, I slip. Now and again in the middle of Family Fun Night, snuggled up reading a book {the same book for the fourth night in a row}, or a spontaneous Sonic run, I let my guard down and it stings like a freshly heated cattle prod, “Well, at my real home we…” Ah yes, now I remember. Most days they view this as an extended sleepover. And why wouldn’t they? Nothing they truly love is here. The majority of their belongings are housed elsewhere. Their friends, toys, school, and parents were all left in the rear view mirror of a caseworker’s car.

I love your kids

As virtual strangers we have different rules, serve “weird” food, they sleep in a new room, and we have dogs {which is either a plus or a minus depending on the day}. But here’s what I need you to know:: I love your kids. There was a piece of me that wanted to be guarded, needed to keep my distance. But let’s face it. By around day two they had me. I know when he needs to be rocked after a particularly wretched time out and which blood-curdling scream means she saw a spider. I can tickle the tantrum right out of him and I am learning to pick my battles with her when it comes to wardrobe selections. Yes, I get frustrated when the teachers give me a bad report or they refuse to eat their vegetables, {we’re working on it, cheese heals a multitude of aversions}. But man, when they sandwich me at a restaurant because they both want to be on “my team,” insist on one more hug before the car gets moving, or say, “You’re the best foster mom,” my heart drops to my stomach because I already know how much I’m going to miss them. So you see, I get it.

I go full Mama Bear

I carry that same pit deep in my stomach and similar tears burn the edges of my eyes. I go full mama bear when I don’t expect it, fighting to get their needs met. I get angry and fearful and push for a system to help you repair what’s been broken. I want so badly to love their hurt away, but I can’t. I want to take a magic eraser and undo what’s been done, issue a do-over, and hit the reset button. But none of that is possible. We have the here and now and what’s done is done. But you and I together have a chance to change things. While not an ideal situation, it is a unique one. An opportunity to take a step back, breathe in, and evaluate the need for modification. And while you do that, I’ll be over here loving your kids so much it hurts. We will practice our letters, read books, learn about sea animals, and work on our dance moves until you’re ready.

Nobody has forgotten you.

We talk about you and pray for you every night. They tell me stories about fun things you all have done together and they miss you. And even on our best days when all is going well and I earn one of their biggest hugs or brightest smiles, I’m still not you. So, we need you to get better. They need to be able to return home and feel safe and not have to relay stories to strangers and use the word “scary” to describe them. You have to be able to assure them that this time apart was well spent; that difficult but important work was done. They need you to love them so dang fiercely, that you’ll do anything to prove it. And I know you can…because you’re their mom.

Love, their “other” mother.

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Kirsten C. was born and raised in Texas Hill Country. After becoming a hopelessly devoted Bobcat and earning a degree in Mass Communications-Public Relations at Texas State University, she was wooed by the never-ending culinary options and vibrant street art of Houston and became a transplant. By day she is a marketing enthusiast for a downtown engineering firm, and by night, an over-the-top {and unashamed} dog mom. She and her husband William are licensed foster parents—advocating for children and families—who hope to one day grow their family through adoption. You can follow their unruly journey on their blog, Cornell Chaos. When she’s not trying a new restaurant, playing behind the lens of a Cannon, piddling in the yard, or scouring markets for hidden gems, Kirsten is often found teaching student ministry through Kingsland Baptist Church or escaping at a local coffee spot.


  1. From another foster momma and City Mom contributor I want you to know how beautiful this post is. We fostered our very first placement from Dec 2018 – July 2019. She was reunified back to her mom, which we were soooo happy about. I ended up forming a really great relationship with her mom and we still talk to this day. I get video texts often from our former placement and we even spent the day with her recently. You have a beautiful way with words and I fully related to all of them. Thank you for sharing your journey.

    • Thank you Erica for your dedication to loving kids and families in hard places! So happy to hear that your placement is thriving and her family is on a solid track. Your love and care made a lasting difference. Thank you for your kind words of support!


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