Foster Care Awareness Month
May is National Foster Care Awareness Month. Foster Care…scary words, huh? It was for me and Big Daddy when we started this journey many many years ago. I have so many thoughts going through my head when I even utter that phrase.
When we began our journey, we went in SO naive. I mean googly-eyed and just eager to “fix,” “save,” and “help.” Oh, my goodness. We learned, quickly, that that was not the case.
Please remember, this is OUR journey. These are OUR feelings. This is OUR story. Your story will be different. That’s the beauty of life and different perspectives. I’m PRO foster care. I just wish we were better prepared for what we went through.
Before I Begin…Look at These Facts
The Lakes. These numbers are staggering. Across the board, staggering. Every child deserves a home. Also, every child deserves a last name. Every child deserves safety and their basic needs met. Bless…every child deserves love and a chance. Every. Single. Child. Whether they are fresh from the womb or 40 years old…EVERYONE deserves a family.
My Feels are Feeling
We were so naive. I think I mentioned that. We were eager. First, we had our PS-MAPP classes. 10 weeks, 3 hours a week, sitting through classes re-learning how to parent. We were not completely welcomed. Judged, if you will. There were people there that were older, older couples, younger couples, singletons. I remember looking across the room and this one couple flat out asked us what we were doing in that class. That we had no business being in there because we already “had” children. It wasn’t fair for us to take available children when some people in this world “can’t biologically have” children. Bear in mind, in this class, I was there by myself. Big Daddy had to work and did one on one classes. So, I fielded some of the hate all alone.
Punch in the Gut
That statement took the wind right out of my sails. I have many friends who cannot “biologically” have children. Some have remained “childless” from society’s perspective. Yet…they are just as much a parent then I am. They love, deeply. Sacrifice for others whether that is for their stepchildren/nieces/nephews/cousins/god-children or animals. It is beautiful to witness. There is beauty to be found in the ashes.
I have friends who have chosen to adopt BEFORE they biologically had children. That is how they wanted it all along. Some women can easily conceive and then make the choice to “prevent” conception in a permanent manner. Then, they regret “playing God” and move towards adoption.
However, you come to the cross in how your family is structured…it is YOUR journey. Yours. No one should judge another for having no children or 1000 kids. It is simply none of your business. Gracious. There can be so much hate, judgment, and condemnation.
Ways You Can Help
Not everyone is called to adopt, but we are all called to do something! Here are so tangible ways to help a foster child(ren), foster family, adoptive family, or a child you see that may need a little extra love.
- Pray. For the child, their parents and bio family, the foster family and extended family, judges, attorneys, guardians, social workers, counselors. Can you even imagine, going from the chaos of unsafe home, the only home you know, and leaving with a stranger? Then, being left with a stranger. Sleeping in a strange bed with people that you don’t even know their names or where the light switch is. I cannot even begin to imagine.
- Respite. Provide a weekend, afternoon, or just a drive for the foster family with this new child. Respite is a paid position if you so desire, it is basically babysitting. Believe me, everyone will welcome a short break.
- Meal or Errands. Provide a meal or errands for the foster/adoptive family. Cook one for now, and have one extra ready for the freezer for later. What a help. Running errands helps to contain the chaos. It is so hard to get out and about sometimes. There are just moments when we need someone to run to the bank but due to a crisis, we just can’t get there. Be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Other Ways To Help
- Help Around the House. Mow the yard. Do a load of laundry. Come clean while people nap. Oh, if I had that…people to go to the doctor’s appointments with me. I was wagging 5 kids, by myself. I had no help.
- Be a Non-Judgemental Ear. I never had that either. Just listen. Listen to all the words, even if they are un-Scriptural. Don’t try and fix it. Just listen and love. Pray. Point to Christ.
- See a Need. Meet a Need. No questions asked.
- Volunteer at a Boys and Girls home. Big Brothers Big Sisters. Youth facilities.
- Become a CASA worker. Be the voice for the child. Worth it.
- Donate to Moses Basket or Bags of Love (these are specific to our area). You can call your local DCBS office and find out who you can donate items to help children coming into care.
- Love. Be Jesus with skin on. Be His hands and feet.
I may share the story of our first placement. It was a hard time, personally, during my life. Then these children blew life into my life and I was renewed. Only to be devastated a short time after. I know what satan’s eyes look like. Met him, in person. Still struggle, after all these years. Today is not that day that I want to revisit that pain.