No Sugar-Coating by Jillana Goble

Imagine you’re having coffee with a curious friend who wants to learn more about becoming a foster parent. And being the good friend you are, you decide to share what you’ve learned. That’s where Jillana Goble’s “No Sugar-Coating” comes in. It’s an intimate, written conversation, revealing the good, the bad and the ugly to anyone interested in temporarily opening their home to a child whose family is in crisis.

There’s no denying foster parenting is hard work, something Goble freely admits: “If I could have looked into a crystal ball and seen what this fostering road would eventually look and feel like in the toughest part of the road, I might never have had the courage to take that first step,” writes the foster and adoptive mother. The book offers pearls of wisdom, best-case scenarios, points to consider and tips on where to turn to for help.

Chapter 1, “Things to Know Right Out of the Gate,” lets readers know they don’t have to be perfect to help a child in need. “[P]eople who have some grit in their stories… may actually be able to relate better… because they are overcomers themselves,” writes Goble. The chapter also challenges interested families to ask difficult questions of themselves; including how becoming a foster parent will affect your biological children and whether your marriage can survive the challenges fostering a traumatized child may bring.

Goble also cautions parents against allowing themselves to be cast by others as the “hero” in the lives of the children they care for. And reminds resource parents to be prepared when the “well-meaning” neighbor (or family member) relates your experience to the time they cried after the neighbor’s cat they’d once fostered went home with its human! Each of the book’s seven chapters are a necessary primer for anyone considering opening their home to a vulnerable child. However, chapters four and five are poignant reminders that resource parents are not alone in their fostering journey.

Chapter 4, titled “Let’s Talk Community,” reminds resource parents to lean on others — including those who are not members of the foster care community — to get you through the tough times that will undoubtedly occur. “There is much to be said for having other foster parents who have walked the same path and get it, as a core part of your village,” writes Goble.

And, because acknowledging a child’s first family is an important part of the foster care experience, in Chapter 5, “Foster Parenting & The Child’s Biological Family,” the writer reminds us actions speak louder than words. Resource parents are often on their own when communicating with a child’s first family. Few agencies, Goble writes, provide direction or incentive to do so, leaving both families to find a way to traverse their common but rocky ground. Extending grace to birth parents, acknowledging they too are likely experiencing trauma and remaining open to taking the first step are important. Not everyone will understand or agree with your decision to become a foster parent and they don’t have to, cautions Goble. It’s a decision you’ll likely make with your significant other or closest family members. To guide you on your journey, “No Sugar-Coating” offers the truth and honestly answers your questions in a conversational way. •


— Reviewed by Valarie Edwards

$7.99 (Kindle); $7.99 (paperback)