One of the sweet foster families who we have had the privilege of walking alongside shared these thoughts with us to pass along to new foster families stepping into the uncertain world of foster care. Simple and important thoughts to keep in mind based on this family's experience while fostering. We can all learn something from those who walked before us.
'What I wish I knew before fostering…..
When my husband and I felt God calling us to adopt or foster, we were really excited. A new child! We were excited to be a part of God’s plan. Fast forward to day two of our emergency placement. Okay, the first 5 hours. “Next time God calls, don’t answer.” Really. We knew going into it that it would be hard, but we didn't know it would be THIS HARD. I mean, we'd had training, home visits, medical tests, fingerprints—we couldn't be more prepared, could we? Actually, no. And yes. People prepare for their first child, and then discover there's a lot you can't prepare for—just like fostering. Some of it is truly on the job training. Below is my “wish I would’ve known” list.
Ask for help. Ask for help. Ask for help. The foster agency, CASA, child’s attorney, and CPS are all available to help along the journey. ASK.
You handle what you can handle. The agency will ask if you can handle a lot of different types of children. Be honest. It's not a popularity contest—tell them what you can really handle. Of course they'd love for you to take on 5 kids with special needs, but if you can help one child in “basic care”--that's one child who is safe. God doesn’t need you to save all the children, he needs you to help with the child or children He's chosen for YOU.
Document Everything. Use the “notes” app for ease.
God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called. I’m borrowing that line from our pastor (thanks Brad!), bears repeating. Daily.
Therapy is vital for your foster child. It not only makes a difference for them—it helps your bio family. If your child receives Medicaid, the foster parent is allowed to see the child's therapist under that insurance. This can be a life changing resource to learn more about your child, and help your family.
Strong marriage required. CAUTION. Challenges ahead.
Foster your bio family. Whatever you give to your family won't be enough. Ouch. Sorry, but it won't. And no matter how many times you tell your bio kids you love them and you're working hard to make things better, it’s still hard.
Smell test? You know how your mom could smell the truth? So can you! If someone tells you something that isn't right—question it. (Yes, you're allowed to question authority.)
Give yourself a break. This is hard. Really hard.
God chose you for this ministry for a reason. Whether you foster one child, help with respite care or foster many children. HE has the plan.'
Thank you for these wise words, Kimberly!