I hear this a lot. "I could never be a foster parent. It's too hard." If this is you, read on! You don't have to be a foster parent to make a difference in a child's life!
I met with the Faith Based Recruiter for CPS yesterday. As we talked about the upcoming Adoption and Foster Care Alliance Respite Care Training on January 23rd, she asked me to think about all the things foster parents juggle. Here is the list I came up with off the top of my head:
* Psychological, developmental, medical, and dental evaluations within about a month of receiving a child into the home.
* Once the results of the above come in, setting up the therapies (speech, occupational, physical, developmental, etc.) needed for the child and sometime fighting the red tape to get the child the necessary assistance he or she needs.
* Rearranging your family's schedule to accommodate the therapy sessions.
* Purchasing clothes, toys, school supplies, games, etc. within a day or two because children often come with nothing or very little.
* Processing the anger, bitterness, hurt, confusion, etc. a child feels as he or she is in your care.
* Walking through trauma and attachment disorders with a child in your care.
* Registering and enrolling the child into school. Or, finding a good daycare in a short notice. Ha! If you have tried finding a reputable daycare in short notice, you know the challenges that come with this need.
* Lots of patient processing and accommodating the foster child in the beginning as they become acclimated to your family and family rules.
* Processing ongoing emotional pain with the child as he or she goes through the emotional roller coaster of visiting their biological families or witnessing the struggles of their biological families while they are in your care.
* Teaching your children to share and be patient with a new family member.
* Scheduling and accommodating visits with the biological families.
* Scheduling and accommodating visits with CPS social workers, CPS licensing, Child Placing Agency social workers, and other random checks on your home.
* Concentrated homework or project assistance to develop new academic habits.
I really could go on for pages, but I think you get the point. This is ON TOP OF raising your own children and all the things that we do for them every day. This is a calling. It's a life of self-sacrifice. It challenges what Bill Hybles calls Your Grit Level: when the tough gets goin' what are you really made out of?
I hear people say, "I could never be a foster parent. It's too hard." You are correct. It is hard. So hard. It's also not for everyone. But, here is my challenge to you. Okay, so you don't feel called to foster care.... yet ;-)
What can you do to make a difference? Support the foster parents who are in the arena! They are fighting, fighting hard for the children in their care.
1. First two weeks is hard! Provide a meal for a foster parent. Contact me. I'll tell you how to get on a list! E-mail me: email@example.com
2. Become a respite care provider. We all need a date night with our spouses, but foster parents are in desperate need for a date night! Once in awhile, we need a weekend getaway. Sometimes, we need to go visit families out of State and we can't take our foster children with us. We need respite care providers to care for our foster children. We have a training coming up on January 23rd, 10am-3pm to train AFCA Respite Care Providers. Lunch and childcare provided with RSVP. If you are not CPR certified, stay for the CPR training, 3pm-5pm, $30 for the CPR certification. Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
You don't have to be in the arena of foster parenting, but you CAN support those who are!!! Help wipe their dusty and sweaty faces and take care of their needs. As Roosevelt challenges, don't merely be a spectator and a critic. Dare greatly. Dare greatly by taking care of the foster parents and you will in turn make a difference for the child. Change the future.