9 Ways to Support Foster Families

First of all, if you’re reading this blog post, thank you.  Thank you for your heart and thank you for being willing to serve foster families.  When we first started foster care I didn’t know how to ask for help.  I didn’t even know what I needed.  We were so overwhelmed adjusting to the newness of life that daily tasks seemed like a struggle.  Transparent moment.   I didn’t feel well supported, at all.  Maybe it was my fault for not being more up front about the help that we needed.  Maybe it was my pride that stood in the way of admitting that we were drowning.  I felt that a lot of our community just didn’t know how to respond to foster care.  They wanted to help but sometimes the help hurt or we didn’t get the help that we needed.  Here’s a list I’ve compiled of things that would have been helpful after a placement and things that were NOT helpful after a placement.  When our son was first placed in our home we had an influx of people in and out of our door.  We also were required to be running in and out of our own door.  There were social work visits, endless doctors appointments (the state requires health department exam, general physician exam and dental exam…all three at different locations), guardian ad litem visits, CASA visits, curious neighbor visits and biological parent visits.  We were overwhelmed to say the least and my introverted inner self was losing it!  So, if you’re wondering some ways to support foster families, here were a few things we found to be such blessings during our time of transition:

1.MEALS

After our foster son was placed with us we did not have a meal train set up.  However, after our biological daughter was born we did.  A meal train is SUCH a blessing to a family with a new foster care placement.  Even if it’s just one kiddo.  The emotional roller coaster drained every ounce of energy I had that.  Going to the grocery store or using brain cells to meal plan was a real task.  Create a takethemameal.com and fill as many days with meals as possible!  Directions on delivering meals: LEAVE AFTER YOU DROP IT OFF.  Though the gesture to want to stay and chat is sweet it is also overwhelming.  Give families a few weeks and then re-approach the whole “hanging out and chatting” thing.  We’re happy to share parts of our journey with you…just not during the first few weeks of adjustment.  If we need to vent, we’ll call you!

2.  OFFER TO TAKE OUR PETS

Learning how to meet the needs of a new child in your home is hard.  You’re learning nap schedules, feeding schedules, school pick ups and drop offs and so many other things.  Walking the dog wasn’t high on my priority list.  Our pup quickly got pushed to the side and added another thing to our plates during our weeks of adjustments.  I’m not saying we don’t love our dog.  I’m just saying we needed the break!  Our sweet friends would come by and walk him, feed him and even take him to their house for few days.  I found it SO helpful.

3.  OFFER TO BABYSIT

We always joked that when you enter into the world of foster care it’s like putting a huge target on your back, inviting in spiritual warfare.  We found that we each needed time with Jesus and our marriage needed to be of utmost importance.  We couldn’t go at this thing alone!  So, offer date nights to foster parents.  Don’t push them if they aren’t ready but offer them a schedule and a weekly date night to decompress together.  To sort through emotions.  To pray together.

4.  DO NOT JUST DROP IN

Though help is appreciated, drop in’s were NOT helpful.  We might be visiting with a social worker, just come back from a hard visit or dealing with a trauma tantrum!

5. CLOTHING/TOYS

When you sign up to become a foster parent you can’t really “be prepared”.  You could receive a placement for a newborn or for a five year old.  Meeting basic needs is always super helpful.  The items we found to be such a blessing were diapers, wipes, formula and bottles.  When you’re donating clothing, shoes or toys please don’t bring over used or broken items.  As foster parents we want these kids to feel special.  To feel so loved and appreciated.  A bag of over or undersized clothing with stains doesn’t really say, “You are loved and valuable”.  Before you drop off a ton of toys send us pictures!  Ask, “would this item be helpful for you?”  That gives us the freedom to say, “no thank you”.  I remember having a pile of things that were not helpful to us in the corner of my living room.  It did NOT spark joy and actually created more work for me by adding a trip to Goodwill.

6. GIFT CARDS/AMAZON PRIME

I cannot say enough about target gift cards.  You might be thinking, wait, I thought the state gave you money each month?  That is true, yes.  However, after paying for childcare or preschool, diapers, extra food, clothing, car-seats, activities etc that monthly budget disappears pretty quickly.  Amazon prime is also wonderful!  My sister had a box delivered to our house of clothes and shoes two days after our son was living with us.  I didn’t have to go anywhere or schedule a drop off!

7. PRAYER

Send us a message about how you are specifically praying for us during this time.  Knowing that we aren’t walking alone and that these sweet kiddos have people advocating for them in prayer brought us so much peace!

8.  OFFER TO TAKE OUR BIOLOGICAL KIDS TO DO SOMETHING SPECIAL

Mom guilt is such a real thing.  Our hearts hurt watching other kids hurt but they also hurt for our biological kiddos.  If my bio kids are well acquainted with you, offer to take them somewhere special!  Tell them how proud you are of them for sharing their home and their parents.  It helps relieve some mom guilt and gives us time to connect with the new kiddos that have joined our family.

9. SMILE AND SAY, YOU’RE DOING A GREAT JOB…BUT PLEASE DON’T TELL ME I’M A HERO

When you tell me I’m a hero it makes me feel awkward.  Mostly because I feel like I’m flailing around and hardly surviving.  I’m not a hero and I’m not a saint.  I’m just being obedient to where Jesus has asked me to serve.  I don’t have super human strength or the ability to deal with kids from hard places any differently than anyone else.  I make mistakes and I have mom guilt.  I’m an imperfect mamma and when you elevate me it makes me feel like I have to have it all together.  I don’t have it all together and I need a place to not be painted as a super mom with a heart of gold.

 

Thank you.  Thank you for wanting to love foster families well.  Thank you for wanting to come alongside of us and serve these kiddos in big ways.  It truly takes a tribe.

xoxo Katie

  1. Tracy says:

    These are so practical and helpful!!!! Thank you for writing this 👏🏻👏🏻

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Send

Message

Phone

Email

Name

Thank you!

Your message has been sent. We'll contact you shortly

Contact Us

iowa city, iowa