Children do not come into foster care as a result of healthy, thriving families. They are placed in the system because somewhere along the way, their biological family chose addiction, abuse, neglect, or crime over everything else in their life.
Fostering can produce stories of beautiful restoration. It can also be hard and exhausting. At times, it's really, really, REALLY lonely.
Not everyone understands why one would choose to this path. Almost every foster parent can share a story of friends or family questioning why they would involve themselves in such a messy, broken system.
But then there are the others. The ones that subscribe to the "It takes a Village," mantra.
They are the hand-holders, the shoulders to cry on, the meal-bringers, the baby-snugglers, the prayer warriors.
I'll affectionately refer to them The Village People.
The Village People are the ones who still may not totally "get" the crazy world of foster care, but they trust your heart and your calling. They know that this is what your family is MEANT to do. They do everything they can to support your family in the journey.
I've got to brag about the Village People that have come alongside the foster families in our church the past two years. They are doing ordinary things that are extraordinary blessings to those that are fostering.
I want to share these examples because they are do-able, practical, and can easily be put in place anywhere for foster families. Whether you know one foster family or have a community full of them, these are ideas that can be easily implemented and make a significant impact their life.
Foster "Care" Bags: These bags are made up of donated used/new diaper bags, wipes, diapers and other supplies. The bags are age and gender specific for infants through school-age children. Foster "Care" Bags are delivered to families upon receiving an immediate placement of a child to get them through the first 24-48 hours. Most of the time, a child is brought to the family with just the clothes on their body. The bags aim to alleviate some of the immediate stresses on a foster family during the first few days of placement.
|Foster Care Bag for a 12-18 month-old girl|
|Foster Care bag for a 6-12 month-old girl|
Meals- Simple, easy and a HUGE help when a family first gets a placement. Takethemameal.com is an extremely easy online program that someone can set-up and share with others. Sign up online and the date is reserved for when you are going to deliver the meal. Over 150 meals have been provided to foster families by people in our church. And man, can they cook!
House Cleaning- Sue, a member of our church, cleans houses professionally. She is not at the place in her life where becoming a foster parent is an option, but she wanted to do something to help. Sue has offered to clean the house of one of the foster families every other week. As you can imagine, there was quite a response from the families on this one!
Blankets- Little ones need security and something to call their own. What better than a blanket that is made just for them? Two ministries at our church, Prayer Shawl and Threads of Love, have donated hand-made blankets for the children in care. A soft blanket is the perfect comfort for small children who have just had their world flipped upside down upon entering foster care.
|Hand-knit by the Frazer Prayer Shawl Ministry|
|Hand-crafted by Frazer's Threads of Love Ministry|
Pictures- For the past year, two professional photographers have taken pictures of the foster children in our church every three months. Suzanne and Lori donate hours of their time, resources, and their immense talents to provide childhood keepsakes for kids who may otherwise have no documentation of their early years. I can't show you any pictures of the foster children, so I will share the latest photo they took of our son, T.D.
The pictures have also been a gift to the biological families. When a foster family gives the biological parents these pictures, two things happen. One, it reminds the biological family that the the foster family is on the same team. Two, the pictures become a daily reminder to the parents to keep fighting for the restoration of their family. A blessing in so many ways.
Prayer- Lots of it. We have a prayer team made up of ten women who are committed to specifically be praying for our foster families and adoptive families in the church. When a prayer request arises, we share as much information as confidentiality allows with the team and they get to praying, praying, praying.
What are your Village People doing? I would love to hear some stories!
To our Village People at Frazer UMC:
You are unbelievably awesome. The meals, the hugs, the encouraging words, and the prayers have gotten us through some of the most difficult days. We need you, though we may not always let you know it. Thank you for loving us and the children so, so well. When you treat our foster children just as every other child that walks through the door of the church, you let them know they are valuable and wanted. By providing them with normalcy, stability, and love, you are validating every truth we are trying to instill in them during the time they are in our homes. Village People, you play such an important role in the lives of these children. Thank you. (And we hope you like your nickname :)
The Foster Families