a couple of months ago i was trying to check out and reschedule appointments at the pediatrician’s office with two littles. we had to have a bit of discussion about shot record and rescheduling due to court dates, so it was obvious i was not your average parent. one little was crying wanting another sucker because the color i had chosen wasn’t good enough. the other one, the highly contagious one, kept walking off and touching everything as i continued to reign them back. it was obvious we were holding up the line. i glanced to the patient lady behind me and said,”i am so sorry”. she kindly said, “it’s okay, i am just impressed you are a foster mom.” she smiled and moved to another window. i was grateful for her flexibility, but as the day went on the word impressed kept nagging at me.
impressed? no, please don’t be impressed. i realize she was trying to be comforting or encouraging, but the last thing i wanted her to be was impressed. the very thought of people being impressed by my simple, obedient act of being a foster parent is what has kept me relatively quiet on social media and this blog (until now) about my new normal. the last thing i want is a spotlight on me when it is the children, their struggles, and our gracious God that deserve all the attention.
so, i began to think about what i wish non-foster parents were instead of impressed. here are three ideas that quickly came to mind.
instead of being impressed, be informed
before i entered this faith journey i was clueless to the staggering statistics involved in foster care. as i looked at the needs of alabama, i was reminded that these are not kids halfway around the world, these are children within a few hours driving distance of me. want to learn about the numbers involving foster care in your state? check out this interactive map at the Christian alliance for orphans website – interactive map.
i think the graphic that has impacted me most is another powerful one (below) from the Christian alliance for orphans. the top number is the number of foster children in each state. the bottom number is the number of churches, not people in churches, churches in each state. it took me just once glance at this graphic for the words rise up church to start being the cry of my heart.
knowledge leads to power, conviction and action. what will you do now that you have come face to face with the staggering statistics of children right in your backyard?
instead of being impressed, be involved
i love the quote that not everyone can be a foster parents, but everyone can do something to help a foster child. this couldn’t be more true. maybe you weren’t called to be a foster parent or maybe you can only foster a limited number of children. (this is a truth i have recently learned.) that doesn’t mean you have to stop being involved with helping them. here are some ideas of ways you can be involved:
- did you know most foster children move to their foster home with all of their belongings in a garbage bag? purchase backpacks or suitcases and fill them with pajamas, toiletries, clothes and shoes for a certain age. take them to your local dhr/dcs office so a child with nothing can immediately have some much needed items.
- can’t do a whole suitcase? no worries, just grab extra packs of diapers or clothing items for older children/teens and take them to your local office.
- social workers are some of the most over-worked and under-valued professionals i know. you could make or purchase some treats and take them to foster care social workers with a note of thanks for all they do. also, always keep them in your prayers.
- many foster parents count on Christmas gifts given through Christmas angel trees or other organizations. during the holidays contact your local dhr/dcs office and ask how you can sponsor a foster child for Christmas.
- help with the foster kids Christmas party. i was blown away to see a friend of mine that had three biological kids of her own serving faithfully at the Christmas party this year. she exemplified the hands and feet of Christ to me that day.
instead of being impressed, be an encouragement
there is no way i would have made it a year-and-a-half without the many encouragers God has put in my life. here are just some of the ways people have blessed and encouraged me to enable me to focus on the needs of those placed in my care.
- little surprises are big encouragers – often times i would open my front door and diapers, food, stuffed animals, toys, or clothes would be left on my porch. what great surprises!
- i had two individuals give me money to help cover the cost of babysitting so i could have a break for just a couple hours each saturday. this was huge in the season i needed it most.
- who has time to cook? – don’t ask, just bring meals that can be frozen or eaten immediately depending on the events of the day. let’s just say my sweet friends cook way better than me!
- listen – don’t try to fix their world, just listen. sometimes we just need a safe place to share and a friend to listen.
- love their kids well – whether we have them for a weekend, weeks, or forever, love the children placed in our homes just like you would if they were our biological children. my friends are beautiful examples of loving well.
- gift cards rule – i believe amazon gift cards (and the fabulous gift of prime delivery) saved me from many errands and allowed me to focus more on the littles in my life.
- text, email, or send cards without expecting to hear back. i use to be so good at thank you notes. those days are gone along with having all the texts and emails on my phone read and then replied to with meaningful comments.
- pray – i have seen miracles in my short year-and-a-half in foster care, so never underestimate the sweet gift of prayer.
i realize in my little over a year-and-a-half that i am just an amateur in the foster care community. there are so many selfless giants i look up to and count as heroes. may we all be found faithful in whatever God has called us to do.