Evidently it’s National Foster Care Month (what do things that like even mean?). There’s an instagram thing going around with a different prompt for each day of the month. It’s appealing, but there’s no way I would actually follow through with it. I have, however, had the start of a list rattling around in my head for some time and thought I’d share it here.
How To Love and Support Foster Moms (Dads/Parents/Families/Etc.):
- Pass on the clothes your kids have outgrown (if age/size/season appropriate). My church family has been GREAT at this (we have TOO MANY clothes for the girls!) What a huge blessing it is to not have to spend much money on completely new wardrobes anytime there is a new season or a new placement.
- Food. Society creates meal sign-ups after a family welcomes a newborn–it is just as much of an upheaval to *boom* have a new child (of any age) show up in your house. Meal planning is just mental energy that has to go elsewhere much of the time. And this doesn’t have to just be when a new placement first arrives. Meals are welcome any time (don’t ask, just do). One of my sweetest memories is when our first placement was placed back with her mother and a sweet woman from church made us a chicken pot pie. How precious to just eat home cooking through our tears.
- Keep calling/texting sweet messages that you’re thinking of us, but don’t pressure us to respond back timely. It is LIFE to know people are walking this road with me, but at the end of the day my ears are ridiculously tired and the thought of a long phone calls sends me over the edge.
- Stop saying how special/awesome/admirable we are or what a blessing we are to these kids. The kids don’t want to be in foster care, and it’s not their fault they are here. They aren’t necessarily thankful for us. And keeping hounding on how saintly we are for doing this just brings to mind all the moments my halo has fallen off but no one has been around to see. I am angry and impatient. I am learning. I am no better than the average mom on the street.
- Go through whatever process your state requires to be approved to watch the kids. It takes a little time and probably some money, but getting that background check brings so much life to our hearts. We can’t just leave these kids with the average 15-year-old babysitter. And thus, there is not much time when The Fellow and I are ever together without the kids. Having someone to watch them every once in a while so we can have a date night, or at least knowing there are people we can call in an emergency takes a huge load off.
- When we’re venting about bad behaviors, don’t offer unsolicited advice. Much of these kids’ behavior is trauma-induced and typical parenting/discipline methods don’t work and don’t get to the root of the issue. It’s a big learning curve to not just be trying to modify behavior but to actually heal wounds and re-wire brains. Your matter-of-fact statements of what to do don’t really help things, and make us feel even more misunderstood and alienated.
- Pray. Pray, pray, pray. This is hard work and most days leave us feeling defeated and wondering if this is really for us. We need wisdom. We need patience. We need breaks. We need lots and lots of Jesus.
There are many people who are walking this path with us, and helping us navigate these waters of what we need and what brings us life. Having a church family that wants to support us has really made all the difference.