I have discovered that support in our fostering journey is essential. I have also discovered that when the church of Jesus Christ gets involved, support is ours.
Sixty percent of foster families stop after only one year. This high rate lowers drastically when the family has support surrounding them.
And this is encouraging, because not everyone can foster, but everyone can do something. Being a support friend for a family can keep them continuing to foster.
Foster the City is an organization that my church is partnering with to help support our foster families. FTC is “a coalition of churches committed to providing a loving home for every child in the foster care system.”
To do this, Foster the City churches recruit a network of people—“support friends”—for each family.
What can “support friends” do for the family? Besides praying regularly for them, each support friend, each month, provides one tangible and one emotional support!
That’s possible, right? And each person has different talents and resources, so brainstorm ideas with your family of how you can help.
Providing emotional support can look like reaching out with encouragement that month—a text, email, handwritten card.
Here are some ideas for supporting with tangible, physical needs:
*Bring a meal once a month. I know—sounds cliché. With our first placement, when someone asked me if they could set up a meal train for us, I said no thank you, we’re fine. They set it up anyway and it really was what we needed. That first week, I got sick and the baby was sick. We were trying to adapt to a new schedule and then—a meal shows up. And then another a couple days later.
I was so grateful for those meals.
*Tutor the older child in the home. So many of these children are already behind in school. From the trauma, from neglect, from parents not knowing how to help them. Then throw in they should have had eyeglasses for years and just got their first pair. The need for tutoring is immense.
*Yardwork. When a family who had been independent suddenly has a toddler stuck to their leg, or a baby needing fed every two and a half hours, the yard gets pushed aside. A friend of ours turns on and off our sprinkler system each season. Such a load off our shoulders.
*Housework! Oh, the daydreaming I did over having house cleaning service when I had five children living in my house.
*Grocery shopping. During the pandemic, we had three little ones. You remember all the rigamarole we had to go through just to go into a store. A friend brought us a gallon of milk. Just what we needed. The load lifted from my shoulders. Even without pandemic craziness, it is still extra work to go to the grocery with children in tow.
*Babysitting. So the foster parents can go on a quick date. Or to pick out the bigger car they now need with the bigger family. Or, like happened to me Week 1 of Placement 1, to go to a funeral.
*Transportation. Foster children have so many appointments—to meet with their bio family, therapist, doctor, tutor. Add this to the family’s biological children’s schedule and it might not be just hard, but might not work at all. Offering to drive children, bio or foster, is a huge help. A relief.
Fostering adds a lot to a family. A lot added to their schedule. A lot added to their hearts. Being a support friend in whatever way you personally can adds a relief to what they have willingly stepped up to do.
And when the children, both foster and biological, see you step in to help, they see Jesus loving on them too.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
*Backyard Orphans also works with churches on how your church can participate in foster/adoption care.