FOSTER FAMILIES: Day 22 of 31 Days of Creative Caring



Several years ago, when I was in my early 40s, I met a couple in their 70s who had just taken in a 6-month-old foster child.  The baby’s name was Grace … or as her foster father called her, Amazing Grace.  She was a beautiful little girl, but the ones who I thought were amazing were the foster parents.  I know the energy required to care for a growing-up baby, and this couple (who had long ago raised their own children) had the additional challenge of Grace’s “drug baby” status.
 
If you visit here often, you know I love children. I just can’t imagine how someone can take in a child and love them … and then have to give them up.  I asked the foster mother how she could stand to do that.  With wisdom far beyond my years, she looked at me and said humbly, “It’s not about my feelings.  It’s about the child.”
 
I’m well aware that the foster care system in our country is broken.  I know that some people become foster parents so they’ll get extra money. I know that when children “age out” of the system at 18 they’re dropped … on their own … usually with no one to help them through the challenges of early adulthood … and that at least 75% of all foster children are in trouble within three years of the time they leave the system.  And yes, I know that social services workers carry burdens (and case loads) beyond belief.
 

I know I’d like to see the need for foster care disappear all together…

 
But in the midst of the angst I feel about the system, I remember little Grace’s foster parents … and others I’ve met since then.  They’re good people with really big hearts.  I wish I’d been doing a better job of encouraging them.  Perhaps you feel the same…
 
If you hear of someone who is preparing to take in a foster child … Ask what they need. If they’re like Grace’s foster parents, they might need everything!  Hand-me-down (or new) clothing, shoes, bedroom furniture or bedding, games, stuffed animals, toiletries, etc.
 
Take a meal – This is sometimes especially helpful the first week the child joins the family because there are often appointments and adjustments that have to be made — and not having to cook can relieve some stress and ensure a calm environment for the child.  Of course, an occasional night off in the kitchen is welcome anytime!
 
Offer to babysit – every parent needs a break!
 
Listen … and respect confidentiality.  Foster parents, like any parent, sometimes need a friend to whom they can “vent” or express their frustrations.  And sometimes they want a chance to brag on their foster child’s progress!  In both instances, however, there are often many details they cannot legally share.  A true friend will listen … without asking a lot of questions.
 
Respect the foster parent (even if you don’t respect “the system”)  The task they’ve taken on is filled with much personal sacrifice.  The foster parents who truly do what they do in order to make a difference in the life of a child deserve our respect and encouragement.Make a special effort to befriend the foster child.  Yes, they’ll probably take a piece chunk of your heart someday when they leave, but they need you now.
 

Have you ever been a foster parent?  Have you ever considered it?

 
This is part of a 31-day series. To read previous posts, go HERE.

Comments

  1. This came at a perfect time! A couple from church who fosters kids (big huge hearts!) just agreed to take two very little brothers, toddlers. It’s a much younger age than they are used to. I do need to see what specific thing would really help them.

  2. I did prayerfully consider it at one time. I’m a nurse and work often in the pediatric setting. One thing that happens is a child is born with a developmental disability and they end up in the foster system. I have worked in two homes where they had medically fragile children. Truthfully both homes were not “good homes”. Both homes were in it for the money. One little girl was about 2 and left often to cry. I worked in the home with a drug impacted child they adopted. This little girl had the sweetest personality and the foster mom had decided she could no longer care for her. She screamed a lot, but I felt that was simply the home environment. I was prayerfully considering taking her when the state found another foster mom. I happened to see her about a year ago and she was around 10 and with the same family. She was thriving and happy in a home with other children. I knew that home would have been much more perfect for her than our home without kids and two older parents. And in looking at my life, with my mom getting dementia and me having to help her, this was the best thing for my life as well. I loved all the foster children I have worked with. I felt like I was more than their nurse, I was also their grandma somewhat. Some were drug impacted, and so I do have very strong beliefs about drug use in pregnancy because of the damage I’ve seen. Wonderful ideas once again Susan!

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