I get a lot of questions about being a foster parent. A lot of people are intrigued by it, and we often get questions about how people can help foster parents out. I understand that being a foster parent isn’t for everyone but people still feel called to help, which is so awesome. So, here are a few ways you can help.
Donate Your Time
Date night! Offer to watch their kids. Most foster parents don’t see a date night very often. Did you know that half of all foster parents quit within their first year because of how isolating and difficult it can be? I’d even suggest becoming licensed yourself and do respite care. Being a respite care provider means you keep children overnight for a couple of days, like for a weekend. The list of people foster children are allowed to be left with is next to none, especially overnight. It’s like a visit to grandma and grandpa’s house and is truly so fun! If you don’t think that’s the right choice for you, I get it! It’s so hard. Even just watching kiddos for a date night or so a mom can clean her house is HUGE and greatly appreciated.
This is a huge help! It can be so stressful being a “new” parent to new kiddos. Everything becomes a big deal, even meals – okay, ESPECIALLY meals. So, whipping up a casserole or sending over a Chick-fil-A gift card could be one of the most meaningful gestures you could offer foster parents. This was one thing we were offered by some friends and we ended up saying no and at times I wish we had just taken them up on it because boy did we eat a lot of chicken nuggets and french fries that first couple of weeks. (Quick advice to new foster parents: ACCEPT THE HELP.) The first breakfast I made was an absolute disaster and I’m pretty sure it was a 4-hour production with a 2-hour cleanup.
Help Provide Necessary Items
When we got our first placement, it was a sibling group and they came with literally nothing. We had no clothes for them, no toothbrushes, not enough of ANYTHING, and one of them was a boy and we had zero toys for him (#girlhouse). That next day our family went above and beyond! They went out for clothes, toys, food, snacks, movies, shoes, snow pants (it was a huge blizzard that day), flowers for the momma, candy for the daddy, etc. They got everything we needed and more and refused our money. This was one of the biggest blessings to us. I still tear up thinking about it. It took a huge burden off of us and helped ease our stress just a little bit. If this is something you can do for someone, please consider doing so, even if it is hand-me-downs.
Even small (okay, BIG) gestures go a long way!
Drop a Coffee Off
I have a friend whose gift is knowing when I need coffee. She will randomly drop by and just hand me a coffee and a hug and be on her way. This is my favorite thing ever! At one point in my motherhood journey, we had five children ages six and younger so this momma was ALWAYS so tired. I’d drink coffee anyway, any time and in any form. Give. Me. All. The. Coffee. Just dropping off a coffee or tea, and maybe some donuts off is such a sweet (literally!) and thoughtful thing to do. It’s fairly simple and inexpensive but I know from experience it will brighten their day.
Okay, this is a hard thing to bring up but foster kids sometimes come with a lot of trauma. Trauma causes a lot of behaviors and let’s be honest, that’s not always fun. But please, still invite foster parents to things. Do playdates with them, go to the park, have a picnic, etc. I know how difficult it can be to be left out because someone has too many kids or maybe they aren’t the best-behaved children. However, you just might be the only interaction that mom has that week. Invite her, embrace her, love her. Being seen and loved for exactly who you are is one of the greatest feelings out there.
Motherhood can be so lonely, but being a mom to a child with trauma is downright isolating.
Remembering back to the first couple of months of having our first placement, I didn’t text anybody back. I was so overwhelmed and felt like my plate was too full. A lot of friendships fell by the wayside and thankfully, everyone understood. I had a few friends who never gave up on texting me even though they knew they probably wouldn’t get a response for a few days if ever. Some of my friends forced me out of the house which took a lot of persuading but it was so good for my mental health. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was exactly what I needed.