Nicole Lauren is a single woman who felt called to become a foster mom at the age of 27.

Although she says the journey has been worth it so far, Nicole recently found herself wondering what life would be like if she lived closer to her hometown — where she would have possibly felt more supported by friends and family.

Nicole Lauren

She wrote on Facebook:

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I moved back home. The fact of the matter is, I have no mom friends out here and most of my friends from back home have children of their own. As I sit at home alone again, I can’t help but think about how nice it would be to have friends that understand what it’s like when you can’t find a sitter because you don’t want to bother your family for the 100th time, or you’re too tired to go anywhere, so you stay in and drink wine and watch movies instead. Other than a quick rehearsal on Thursday, I can’t remember the last time I got to actually talk and be around people my own age. I love this kid, but sometimes, this journey can get awfully lonely. I’m going to allow my self to have a little pitty [sic] party, maybe eat a couple bites of ice cream, then I’ll pick myself up and do it all again tomorrow.

Nicole graciously agreed to talk with Dearly about her life as a foster mom and all the highs and lows that come with it.

Q: Can you explain your initial decision to become a foster parent and why you decided this path in life?

A: I’ve wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. It may sound odd, but something called me to fostering. I love kids and had the ability to help, so I decided to jump in and go for it.

Nicole Lauren

Q: Was becoming a foster parent everything you thought it would be?

A: Yes and no. I knew it would be hard, but [I] wasn’t prepared for how difficult some situations would be. It’s extremely difficult to love a child with everything you have without knowing how long they’ll be with you for. It could be days, months or years, you just never know.

Q: What have been the most difficult and most rewarding parts of foster parenting?

A: There are so many difficult things about foster care. One of the most difficult is having to say goodbye to the children. I know I struggle with feeling like I don’t have a voice for the children. Like the foster parent's opinion doesn’t really matter. Also, the investigations that are bound to happen. Knowing what you’ve been accused of doing is 100% false, but still have to put beds on hold while you go through the investigation. The most rewarding is getting to watch the kids grow and thrive! Knowing that I played a small part in hopefully laying a positive foundation for them.

Q: What kind of advice would you give someone who is thinking about becoming a foster parent?

A: Think long and hard. Mentally prepare yourself for the highs and lows of foster care. Make sure you have a support system in place and find local foster support groups. Parenting foster kiddos is different then parenting bios, it’s nice to be able to talk with people who understand all the craziness of meetings with case workers, licensing workers, the GAL, making court appearances, and all the other things that being a foster parent entails.

Nicole Lauren

Q: Is there anything you would have done differently?

A: Honestly, no. As hard and emotionally strenuous this journey has been, it’s been completely worth it.

Q: And lastly, is there anything else you would like others to know about this journey?

A: If it’s in your heart, ask about it. Find an agency and ask them questions. It’s an emotional roller coaster with tons of ups and downs, but there’s also so much love! Love for the children in your care, for the case managers, parent aids, and yes, even the biological parents.

Like Nicole alluded to, becoming a foster parent isn't for the fainthearted. But, as she demonstrates, knowing that you can have such a profound influence on a child's future, just by smothering them with love and happiness, is why many say fostering is one of the most rewarding gifts of all.