Advice needed on how to let go!

Around 4 or 5 months ago, I found a tiny kitten starving in an alley on Jindo. I took him home where he almost immediately bonded with me and my dog, Alexis. Not long after, I adopted another dog, Chloe. Not long after that, I decided to foster two more kittens, Quint and Brody, the same age as my own. Recently, I found a family who wants to adopt all three kittens.

In all possible respects, this family seems perfect. They have lots of space, both indoor and outdoor, for the cats to play safely. They have more than enough money to cover any future vet bills. They plan on taking them back to Switzerland when they leave in 4 years. One member of the family is a 10 year old boy who loves cats and is really wonderful with them. The cats would never be alone because there is always a cat-loving person at home. Perfect!

In spite of this wonderful situation, I am really struggling with the thought of letting them go. Intellectually, I know it's the best option. They can provide certain things for the cats that I can't (namely, outdoor space to play). And importantly, letting the cats go will mean I have more time and money to foster and help so many other deserving animals. My head is saying it's the right decision but my heart is REALLY struggling.

All my animals love each other SOOO much. They are so unbelievably full of love! I have the best team I could ever possibly hope for. They love each other; they comfort each other; they are there with hugs and kisses if one isn't feeling well... And, selfishly, I love having the kittens around. They have the best little personalities ever and they are such a blessing in my life. I always look forward to coming home and seeing them. Also, I wonder how the dogs will do without the kittens around and how the kittens will do without the dogs. And, I wonder if Chloe and Alexis would be willing to accept other dogs in the house when they are so accustomed to Gray, Quint and Brody.

There is so much going on in my head and I was hoping to get a little advice from others who have had similar struggles. How can I let go of animals that I have so thoroughly grown to love? I may not have a perfect home but I know they are happy here and surrounded by lots of love. It would be a gift to provide these guys a forever home. How can I just pass them off? HELP!! :)


Tags: letting go, fostering, adoption, advice


eveliens's picture

I fostered a pair of kittens for 5 months last year. They were a brother/sister pair and some of the best cats I have every known. They were very close with my dog - as in they thought she was their weird canine mom and she thought she was a cat. However, I found a perfect home for them. I was worried that my dog would be upset, and she did seem concerned for a few days, but I've not had any problems with her. She accepts new animals in without problems. The kittens themselves are fat, happy cats and had NO problems adjusting to a new home with the dog.

There are so many animals that need help and so few good fosters to help them. That's how I let them go. They are a gift that I give the people that adopt them. I know they are loved and taken care of and are blessing someone's life, so that I can continue to help more animals. That is why I only have one dog without any plans to adopt another. If I adopt another dog then I will not longer foster.

You have to set limits for yourself, for the health of you and your animals. Only you can decide those limits. If you do this, then I think you'll realize what is the best for you and the kittens.

clare_bell's picture

Marla, it is SO hard! So, SO hard to let go of your babies. You've nurtured them, seen them through some of the toughest times of their life...and then you give them to someone else.

But you don't just blindly give them away. You search for that perfect someone, that perfect family. It sounds like you've found them! Go with your gut though...if you don't feel right about it (them), don't do it. However, if you do feel right, then let them go.

As eveliens says, the world needs more fosters. That's how we save lives. It takes a special kind of person to foster an animal. You give it your all, spend money, laugh, cry, fall in love and then perform that selfless act of choosing what is best for them, AND for the future four-legged animals whose lives will be saved in the space they left in your house and your heart.

Amanda24601's picture

Hey Marla, it broke my heart to read what you're going through and I COMPLETELY understand! I felt the same way when I had to say goodbye to Quint and Brody myself! I was heartbroken. We had them longer than most of our fosters and you saw in the vids and pics how Peanut and Ovid loved them. One happy little family! However, my tears of sadness turned into happy tears as you kept in touch and sent me pictures and video clips and they looked soooooo happy and content. I thought if they're happy I should be happy. Like Clare said, don't do it if you're not sure, but if you are sure, make sure they send you pics and updates. Anytime I get a picture of one of our previous fosters sleeping peacefully, playing happily, or being hugged and cuddled, it warms my heart and makes the empty feeling of missing them go away : ) It's so hard to let them go, but there others who are in desperate need of the rare, wonderful, loving people like you to change/save their lives. Thanks for loving them so much, Marla. Hang in there : )

Brown's picture

Hi Marla,
I write this as a failed foster parent (do as I say, not as I do :)) – 5 rescued animals (4 dogs and a cat) through my doors over the years (6 if you count the days-old puppy who already had pneumonia when I found him and died within a week), all supposed to be ‘temporary’ residents until I could find them forever homes. But in the end, I only handed one over to a new family, and then only because my other dogs didn’t like her and the new family was my parents-in-law, who had become smitten. So, I completely understand your reluctance to let go. Handing an animal you love to someone else, no matter how great that someone else might be, is hard, and it should be (otherwise we’d probably have even more irresponsible people than we already do giving up their animals for spurious reasons).

You are struggling with this because you are trying to do the right thing by the animals, which is exactly what you should be doing. For me, though, you have already answered your own question when you said that the new family will give the cats a better life than you can. Ultimately, I was able to hand my dog to my in-laws because I knew she would have a better life with them (as a pampered only-dog!) I would have given Suzie, a dog from Asan I fostered when I was in Korea, to the right new family too, but in the end, with all her health problems and limited life expectancy, I didn’t feel anyone else could give her a better home and I decided to keep her. Suzie and one of my original dogs have both died in the past year, and the one remaining dog is very close to the end now (don’t feel sorry for her – she has had a wonderful life and is heading for 18 y/o, though I don’t think she’ll quite make it to that venerable birthday!), which will leave us with just one young cat, at which point we will start fostering again. I have been so privileged to have these lovely animals in my life and am happy I have been able to give them such happy lives, but I can’t help thinking how many more I could have helped if I had not kept them all.

The bottom line is that there are soooooo many animals out there that need help to get healthy or be made more adoptable by responsible loving foster parents. A lot of people don’t feel comfortable taking an animal off the street or from a shelter as they are afraid of dealing with an unknown quantity, which is why so many shop (I know, you don’t know what you’re getting when you shop either, but people believe they do). I think quite a few of those who might otherwise shop, however, will adopt from a foster parent as they know what they are getting. Fostering is really one of the best things you can do to save lives, and you are obviously doing an amazing job with all the animals in your care. All that said, though, you have to go with both heart and mind on these decisions and if you don’t feel like an adoptive family is right for the animals then keep waiting until you find the right one, and if the right one ends up being yours, so be it.

marlajoy's picture

Thanks everyone for your comments. I think my biggest problem is just the inherent uncertainty of the whole situation. It SEEMS as though the new family can provide certain things for the cats that I can't. I THINK it is best for the cats but clearly, this can never be known with certainty. Their future circumstances, as well as my own, are unclear. Sure, if I knew with 100% certainty where the cats would have the best life, I would send them there in a heartbeat!! No question. It's just impossible to know. My only option is to weigh things out in my head and then go with my heart. My heart loves them SOOOOO much though so I'm feeling confused.

I want to help more animals but even if I decide to give up the kittens, I'm not sure I am the right sort of person to foster again. You are all right, it takes a special person to foster and I'm not sure I can be that person because the final act of letting go is the most difficult! What if you make the wrong decision and your animals suffer because of it?! Nightmare!!

Wow, this is so hard. I give a HUGE thank-you to all you fosters out there who have done this multiple times over. You have something that I am definitely lacking! :)


eveliens's picture

Not the most comforting piece of advice, but there's no way to know 100% you could do it either. You could be hit by a car and go into a coma tonight. So don't let the uncertainty cripple your decision making. There are no guarantees in life. Have you considered an adoption contract that requires the animals be returned to you if for any reason they don't work with their new family? This is a common clause for most rescue agencies. Some people might argue against it because it gives the family "an easy way out," but if you do sufficient screening then the family truly won't do that. This might give you some more security about their future.

Regardless of your decisions, to foster or not, to adopt or not, you have saved their lives. And those are 3 precious lives more than before.

marlajoy's picture

absolutely! There is definitely no guarantee with me either! Yes, I have already gotten them to agree that if, for any reason and at any point in time, they no longer want the kittens, they will return them to me and allow me to find a home for them. And they have also been really wonderful and told me I can visit whenever I want and they will also send me updates and pictures. Like I said, they seem as good as they could possibly be. What other family in Korea would be willing to take all three kittens together, provide them a large indoor/outdoor space and agree to allow me to visit and send me updates?! It's happening slowly but I think I am getting ready to start letting go - - ouch, even saying the words is hard!!

Hunt's picture

Marla, I literally stick my head in the dog bed and cry and cry and cry, then I drink a bottle of wine and cry and then I pick up another dog and it feels sooooo much better.

marlajoy's picture

hahaha :) Thanks for bringing a little humor to the discussion, Hunt! :) I don't drink wine but a good crying session followed by a little grape juice might do the trick :)

Hunt's picture

and don't forget to follow-up with immediately fostering another animal. It is a version of serial-dating. Some girls just can't be alone and the best way to get over a break-up is to get a new boyfriend. I am a serial-foster parent. The best way to get over the heartache is to help another!

marlajoy's picture

Yeah, I've already got a sweet boy in mind! :) I figure us girls (me, Alexis and Chloe) could use a little male energy!

Ankh13's picture

I completely understand. I'm fostering a kitten now that I planned on adopting but since I'm here on a yearly contract and unsure if I'm going to stay another year I was fine with taking her with me. That was until I found out that the home I'd be moving into if I went back to the US wouldn't allow her in the house. I was devastated but decided to foster her to try and find a good home for her, which was a terrible idea. I bonded instantly with her. I cried when someone e-mailed me interested in her ( but they backed off when I told them about her tail). I know fostering and helping her find the best home for her is a great thing but I am so picky and needing to make sure the people she goes to will keep her where ever they move to. I kind of hope someone adopts her soon because the longer she stays the harder it will be for me to let her go. I just know after she gets adopted I'm never fostering again lol.

marlajoy's picture

It's funny how things work out. I had just come to terms with letting them go. I was 100% ready to let them go and I was looking forward to fostering a new dog. Then the adoption fell through. So, the kittens are back up for adoption. At least this time around, I am emotionally prepared to let them go and find a wonderful home for them :) Thanks everyone for your help! I don't think I could have done it without you!! :)