What You Can Do
Frequently asked questions about supporting Foster and Adoption families
If you aren’t called to foster or adopt, what can you do? Here are some practical ways to support foster and adoptive families in your community:
- Listen: Fostering is very different from typical parenting. Foster children and foster parents will need time to reflect on the uncertain emotions of living this different lifestyle. You can expect that the foster families will feel, love, grief, frustration, anger, joy, pride, sorrow, happiness and confusion. Those emotions may all bubble up at once! Don’t try to solve the issues that arise. Don’t share advice. Don’t judge. Just listen.
- Food: It’s fairly standard practice for small groups, support groups, women’s ministries, etc. to organize a meal calendar for a family when a new baby is born. Do the same for a foster family when a new child is brought to their home. Don’t forget the snacks! Pack a sack of kid-friendly snacks as well.
- Respite: Everyone needs a break, even foster parents. In many states, respite providers must be licensed by the state. Becoming licensed to do respite will involve a background check, fingerprints and possibly first aid training as well as CPR training. Check with your county office to find out how you can provide a respite so that a foster family can go out on a date, on a small vacation, or even go to their training to maintain their own license.
- Playdates: Include foster children in playdates. Do not assume that they will not want to be invited to a birthday party or movie night. They may have some restrictions but foster families can help navigate the details. When my children were in foster care, I was always delighted to have them included.
- Support Bio or Adoptive Children: The revolving door of foster care can take a toll on the children who are permanently in the home as well. Offer to take them to the park or on a playdate. Or offer respite for the foster children to give the other children a little bit of alone time with mom or dad.
- Schedule Lawn Care: Do whatever you can to relieve any amount of burden you can from the family – like organize a team of people in the church who rotate mowing foster families lawns while they have children in their homes.
- Deliver Care Packages: Most placements occur with little to no notice. Often times within hours. Have things like diapers, gift cards, baby supplies, and other necessities ready to go to be dropped off to a family immediately after receiving a child.
- Stock a Supply Pantry: In conjunction with the care packages develop a supply pantry that stores items like diapers, cribs, strollers, car seats, baby equipment, bikes and other things that families may immediately need upon a child placement.
- Facilitate Support Groups: Foster parents live in a unique world of state regulations, bio-parent visits and licensing guidelines as well as experience the emotions that come along with loving vulnerable children. Give them a place to connect, share experiences and encourage one another.
- Pray: Pray for them. They are engaged in a spiritual battle over the lives of incredibly vulnerable children. They are standing on the front lines and in the gaps for these kids while willingly placing themselves in the path of the Enemy’s attacks.
*Adapted from Jason Johnson Blog and Kristen Berry blogs