It is affectionately called “Foster Fail” when a foster home winds up adopting the animal in their temporary care. It’s a fun celebration to have among the animal welfare crew when we hear a friend, volunteer, and/or coworker becomes a “Foster Fail”. And it’s not hard to realize why it is such a common thing to keep your foster. They are in your home and life for a period of time, and you quickly fall in love.
It is never easy letting go of a foster. The process is actually quite emotional. You are happy they have found their forever home, but you are sad they are leaving you. If you ever want to see me ugly cry, be there right after I hand off my foster to their new family. It’s a very conflicting moment, but a happy one in the end.
Despite the emotions of letting a foster go, I strive to never adopt my fosters. It isn’t always easy, and I’m sure one day I, too, will fail and will end up keeping one (and you can come back to this and tell me “told you so!”). But I truly do not want to keep my fosters. Why? Because I know once I adopt one, I won’t have room to foster as much or anymore at all. And that would be far more tragic to me than seeing my foster leave my home on their way to their forever home.
Being a foster is tough, but not helping is tougher in my opinion. When people ask how I do it, I typically respond with “how could I not”? Fostering a shelter pet is one small way I know I can help. That pup or cat is one less body in the shelter taking up room, one less chance for the shelter to decide they are “too full” to help another animal in need. And that, to me, is more rewarding than adopting.
So please consider fostering for your local shelter. This time of year, shelters are overflowing with amazing animals waiting for their forever home. Offering to help with that overflow is an amazing way to give back and save lives. And I promise no one will judge if you end up adopting your foster. 😉