Everyone Can Play a Part {National Foster Care Month}

In full disclosure, right off the bat, you need to know that I have never been a foster parent. Yet, anyway. {Wink, wink to the hubs if he is reading this!} But, before you write me off and wonder to yourself what kind of terrible vetting process we have here at Houston Moms Blog when it comes to who is going to write what, I do have some experience with the world of foster care and adoption.

We adopted our youngest, but because she was adopted internationally {which means she is from another country}, we did not have any sort of requirement to foster for a period of time before adopting. Yet, as I have talk to several friends that have either been foster parents or are currently foster parents, I know there is some overlap in the experience. Which brings me to my next point as to why you should trust my journalism on this topic. Before writing this post, I consulted with said friends as to make sure I was going to do justice to such an important topic in the life of a child.  As I had those conversations, there were a few themes that seem to run deep {in one way or another} in each one of the conversations I had, and I wanted to share them with you.

We {foster parents} are not saviors.

Listen, foster parents are amazing people; don’t get me wrong! Yet, so many times {and this happens to me too as an adoptive mom} people will walk up and say things like…

  • “That child is just so lucky!”
  • “What you are doing is amazing. I could never do that!”
  • “You are such a better person than I am.”

While that last one may be true… Okay, I’m kidding {sort 0f}… At the end of the day, a foster parent wants the same things any other parent wants – a happy, healthy kid that knows they are loved beyond measure. Sure, at times your foster child may have some different challenges and obstacles they have to overcome to achieve that goal, but just like any other parent, you will do everything in your power to support them and help them overcome those obstacles and lead a successful life. And if you ask any of the foster parents I know who is more blessed from their foster parent/child relationship, they would all agree it isn’t their foster child, that it is very much the other way around.

We are REAL parents.

No, we may not have birthed these children. But for the time being and the foreseeable future, we are their REAL parents, and they are our REAL kids. We are feeding them, clothing them, putting them to bed, signing their homework folders, taking them to the doctor, dealing with discipline, encouraging them, etc. In other words, unless you ever meet an imaginary foster child, STOP asking if these are our real children. They are standing in front of you. They are indeed real, and we love them.

Yes, we worry about the future of our foster children. 

Again, foster parents are in fact parents, and all parents worry about the future of their kids. While some foster parents go into fostering with the intention to adopt, many are there just for temporary placement because they support the goal of CPS to provide reconciliation to the child’s birth family, if that is at all possible and what is best for the child. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t worry or get attached, or that if you have those feelings you can’t be a foster parent. It just means that you are that much more intentional about the love you pour out to each child while they are in your care.

Everyone can play a part in the life of a foster child, whether you are a foster parent or not.

This is the one thing that every single foster parent that I interviewed said. So here are some ways that we can ALL be advocates for foster children ::

  1. If you know someone that is in the process of getting approved to foster or is currently fostering, ask if there are physical or financial needs you can contribute to. Help organize fundraisers. Throw a baby shower or a party. Pay for a foster child to go to camp or do an extracurricular activity. It is a common myth that foster parents have no idea what age or gender of child they are going to be placed with {unless the foster parents indicated that they would accept any child}, and while it may be true that they don’t know the timing of placement, many foster parents are able to indicate an age range as well as gender, so having supplies on standby ready to go is so helpful. You can make that possible for a foster family.
  2. Ask them for ways in which you can pray for them or support them throughout the process. Offer to set up a blog for them to record their journey. Help them get their house ready for their home studies. Celebrate milestones in the process with them.
  3. Offer to get CPR and First Aid certified or whatever else it takes to become an approved babysitter, and let them go out on a date night or just some “me time.” Child Protective Services has a few requirements for someone to be able to babysit a foster child, and many times those requirements are not met by just your run-of-the-mill high schooler, so foster parents don’t get out much. This is something that is so important for any parent, but especially for foster parents as they need time to just take a breather every now and again.
  4. Raise awareness. Talk about the fact that we have over 16,000 kids in foster care in the state of Texas, and many more waiting for homes. Know your facts, and make sure you are sharing the truth. Get connected with incredible groups like DePelchin Children’s Center, who are committed to placing kids with great families and then supporting those families with trainings, support groups, and counseling if needed.
  5. There are so many possible ways that you can be involved. Just be creative.

And as a final word, we as foster and adoptive parents have to commit to extend grace and help educate. I have never been frustrated by someone that has said, “I honestly don’t know anything about adoption. Is it okay to ask x, y, z?” Rather, that question shows me you care and want to be invested in our family situation, and you just may not know how to express it. I have been there, and I have said some pretty stupid things to foster and adoptive parents. But I didn’t stay there, and you shouldn’t either.

If you would like more information about what it means to be a foster parent, the DePelchin Children’s Center put together a FAQ sheet for us to check out!

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One Response to Everyone Can Play a Part {National Foster Care Month}

  1. Marnie Bergstrom May 26, 2016 at 9:15 pm #

    Thank you for this post! I am a DePelchin foster parent. The hoops we have to jump through are not for the faint of heart but they are necessary and well worth it.

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