When we were Foster Parents so often people would say to us “I wish we could foster but…” and I would always encourage them there are so many other ways to support foster care without being foster parents.
Saying yes to foster care is a complete life altercating experience.
It is jumping on a rollercoaster blindfolded.
It is the most emotional, terrifying, wonderful, terrible rewarding experience anyone can do.
But not everyone CAN do.
So if you find yourself unable to be a foster parent but want to support foster care the best way to do so is to love on a foster family!
Read on for simple ways that our circle of friends and family supported us as foster parents.
- Bring them a meal
- Bring clothes/shoes/toys (often foster children arrive with very little to nothing)
- Offer to help with laundry or household chores/yardwork
- Drop off a bottle of wine
- Insist on babysitting for a date night
- Grab groceries for them
- Offer any expertise you have (maybe you have IEP experience, or medical experience, offer assistance in an IEP meeting or medical appointment)
- Find out if they need a support person for a court date
- Write down court dates and send an encouraging text on court mornings
- Send them an encouraging note or text out of the blue
- Just come by to hold a crying baby
- Remind them they are doing something life-changing for a child and their family
The foster care world can be isolating and very hard. Just knowing friends are thinking of you really helps. Having someone take a chore off your hands can be life-giving at that moment.
The goal of foster care is for families to be reunified.
A lot of biological parents will work hard to meet the goals set by the state and have their children returned home to them. This should be the goal for all parties involved.
A child going home is a successful foster care story. However, even the most understanding person of this is not immune to the heartbreak of saying goodbye to a loved child.
This is a traumatic loss to parents and a child who has attached to their foster family. This is a hard loss and when you know someone having to say a hard goodbye, know they are grieving a loss, and being there for them is a very important role as a friend.
Not too long ago a dear friend of mine had to say goodbye to their foster daughter who was very loved and well attached to their family.
The goodbye was quick, they were given very little notice and absolutely no transition. This loss was traumatic for all involved.
My heart was broken for my friend and I was struggling to know how to offer comfort and support.
Often I freeze in these situations and fear of not knowing what to do I end up doing nothing. I wasn’t going to allow that to happen this time. I had to remind myself my job as a friend is to not take away my friend’s grief. No one can do that. My job was to say I am here for you in your time of grief.
My teenage daughter suggested a happy basket that is filled with some of her favorite things and comforting items and so we baked, we ran to the store and filled a basket full of comfort snacks, self-pampering items personal to her.
We delivered the basket and I just gave her a big hug, told her I loved her and I was sorry. That was it. Not words that would change her pain. Just words that said I am sitting in this with you.
If you have a friend grieving the loss of a foster child some ways to help are:
- Bring them a meal
- Bring them a bottle of wine
- Bring them a happy basket filled with fun personally loved items
- Bring them a hug
- Send them a note/text
- Offer to take their other kids for a fun outing (siblings suffer a loss as well when a foster sibling leaves, try to give them a day of fun)
- Sit with them
- Remind them they are doing something life-changing for that child and their family