Two weeks ago, I shared How to Support Adoptive Families While They Are Waiting and I plan to do more posts on supporting adoptive families in the next 2 weeks. This week, I’m so excited to have my best friend guest posting for me! Sarah and her husband Travis are foster parents and adopted a daughter through the foster care system this past year. Sarah has an amazing heart for the children she cares for and I’m so glad she’s taken the time to share these Five Ways to Support Foster Families.
For many foster families the decision to begin this journey is often tied to obedience. The call to visit widows and orphans in their distress found in the book of James is undeniable. Caring for widows and orphans is so broad and can be accomplished in many ways. I’m a rookie foster parent, and I can tell you that this life isn’t for everyone. But the command we find so clearly etched on our hearts doesn’t always have to look like foster care. There are so many ways we can care for these little darlings that have no hope. Maybe you are called to support those who foster. Have you ever thought about what that might look like?
Prayer – So simple, humble, and necessary. There have been many moments in our journey that the prayers of our support team have carried us through. People we didn’t know within our own church family would encourage us with prayer. We would be stopped while picking up our kiddos from Sunday School or while walking to the car, with these simple words “We’ve been praying for you.” Or “How can I pray specifically for you.” Knowing that we were being prayed for has helped in those difficult and joyful moments. Sometimes when emotions run high, just knowing that our family is being carried to the throne of God, has made all the difference in how we minister to the little ones in our home.
Practical Needs – New little ones show up at the most unexpected times. They may come at all hours of the day or night for that matter. Sometimes they are sick and even if they aren’t, many states require foster children see a doctor within 48 hours of being placed in a foster home. Even the most well run and organized home may need an extra set of hands the first few days. Dropping by with a meal, folding the never ending Mount Everest of laundry, offering child care for the other children in the home; these are just a few ways to meet practical needs. There are so many ways we can offer practical needs support, maybe the front lawn needs to be mowed, or groceries need to be picked up. Or older children may need to be dropped off at ball practice. Find out what would have the biggest impact and jump in.
Curiosity – You know what they say, curiosity killed the cat. I know I’m not the only one who is dying to know all the details. Like what happened to his mother? Its drugs, right? The dad’s in jail, right? Fishing for information about the new little one isn’t helpful. Not only are we bound by confidentiality, but we fiercely protect those we are caring for. Their story is their story, period. Please don’t ask. Just don’t. Knowing that this precious life is in foster care should be enough! Repeat step one (PRAY)!
Rejoicing and Weeping – Anytime a new little one comes into our home we rejoice. Not in their circumstances, but that they are safe, loved, cared for, and precious. Rejoice with us. But when the difficult task comes of letting one of these precious ones go, weep with us. Remember these dear ones with us. Share your favorite story about them with us. Take us to get a pedicure. Let us cry on your shoulder. Help us prepare for the next little life that will join our family, even if it’s only momentary.
All In – Do you know what it means to be all in? Our extended family has demonstrated what it means to be all in. Like my mom buying a stocking at Christmas with my foster child’s name on it. Or my sister saying “I’m going to love these girls like they are my nieces until they are no longer in your home.” Or including them in the family picture, because they are a part of the family. Or being the uncle that promotes a charity related to foster care. These are all genuine gestures that demonstrate you are all in and we desperately need you to be all in. Even when you didn’t sign up for this roller coaster.
We are told all the time, “I couldn’t be a foster parent.” I know I couldn’t be one without the power of the Holy Spirit and the family and friends who walk this road with us.