Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Supporting the Surprise--Part 2 {foster mom shares}

Last week I wrote a post about supporting the "surprise" in adoption and foster care. As in, "SURPRISE, we have two kids for you. Come get them in 30 minutes!" and the "SURPRISE! I hope you have baby clothes and diapers and wipes and cribs and car seats!"

Because that's usually how it goes in foster care. One minute you're eating popcorn and catching up on the latest Bachelor, and the next you're bleary-eyed, hungry (cause you didn't have time to eat) and trying to go to sleep with a new snuggly one-week-old and a wild 13-month-old in your care, possibly right next to you. And that 7 PM Bachelor start time is just too late to stay up for, but you'll probably still be awake for it because at least one of the two babies will not want to abide by your schedule.

After posting about the surprise in foster care, a foster parent emailed me to express gratitude and share a few tips about how to help foster parents. I'm sharing what she had to say, because I think people need to know what it's like, from a foster parent's mouth (emphasis mine; numbers relate back to my original post):
As a foster parent who has had that “surprise” call several times now, this post felt very personal. I didn’t really add to the list but I did add my 2 cents. I do want to add a very important foster parent disclaimer: We don’t ask for help, and we should. We don’t ask for help because the kids “aren’t ours.” We don’t ask for help because we hate for you to spend your money on clothes, formula, meals, etc. only for this child to go home in 6 months and us start all over again with a different child 2 months later. We don’t ask for help because we aren’t sure we should. The truth is, we are caring for orphans in a hard way. We should be able to turn to the church body for help. 
1. {on providing baby supplies, food, equipment, and clothes} Yes, yes, yes!  Our church is starting a foster care closet and I am so glad.  Some people assume that the state helps foster parents with basic needs like that and the reality is there is very little to no help available.  All foster parents get WIC but sometimes there is a delay getting things set up which leads to a late night very expensive formula run. Yes, we sometimes get a clothing stipend but it is embarrassingly small. (Jenny's note: High Street Baptist is doing this, and I believe one of my other friends should get credit for getting it going, by the way!) 
2. {on providing meals} When I birthed my biological child there were 3 meals brought to us which was awesome but when I bring home a 3 day old from the hospital…nada. A newborn is just as exhausting no matter the circumstances. So yes, meals are great! 
3. {on creatively supporting foster families}They may not be able to let you babysit but let me tell you what you can do; bring Starbucks, do their dishes, or fold the new loads of kid laundry piled to the ceiling or set up the new crib that’s still in the box. 
4. {on the difficulty of foster care} Foster care is SO hard.  It’s a roller coaster; it’s emotional and uncertain. We need the prayers, the kids need the prayers, and the birth families need the prayers. 
Thank you, friend, for allowing me to share your insights with blog readers. 

And let me encourage anyone reading this: If you are feeling prompted to do something to help, DO IT! Do not ignore the whisper that says, "I should call Megan today," or "I should go get Sarah a Starbucks...I bet she's tired!" DO IT! Be a blessing. 

Side note: I learned even more about foster care last night at an adoption/foster care meeting at church, where the extreme need for foster parents is vast, but the forthcoming hope we are seeing is encouraging. Soon I hope to share some stats with you regarding the need for foster parents, particularly in our area. The numbers were absolutely mind-blowing.)