Advice from a Foster Mom:
Foster care is a wonderful, frustrating, selfless, tiring, rewarding journey. It is many emotions mixed all into one. Then why do it? Because the children of this country need you. They need someone to be their advocate, in every sense of the word. They need you to be that at home, at school, at the DHS office, at church, wherever it involves their lives, they need an advocate. The children of our country need that person to hold them in their arms when their emotions are raging so high and they do not know how to cope with all that is going on in their little world. Be an advocate, be the steady hand, be the love they need to see.
When my husband and I began the training to become foster parents, he was still unsure about the whole thing. We had been to an information meeting that allowed us a little insight to all that is involved in being a foster parent in the county we live in. We both agreed to go ahead and begin training but he was still a little on the fence. The first day we sat in the training my husband felt the Lord telling him that through the journey that we would take in foster care, we would not only be able to help the children, but He was going to use us to help the parents as well. And I have to say that in most of our cases we were somehow used to help the parents.
James 1:27 “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world”. The Bible tells us that religion that pleases God must be pure and spotless. It says we must help needy orphans and widows and not let this world make us evil. Sometimes it is easy to go along in our little world and not be concerned about what is going on around us. Can you please open your eyes and hearts a bit to welcome in a few little ones that need the love and care that you can give?
I’ve heard it said before, “Well if people wouldn’t do ‘such and such’ then we wouldn’t have the need for foster care” or “People need to learn to take care of their own children and stop putting them off on others”. Unfortunately, we live in a world where things happen and foster care is needed. That’s just it. Bottom line. We could say all day long to do this and not do that, but the reality is that things happen and there is a need! My plea to everyone is to please step up. You may not feel the call or the pull to foster children, but you can most definitely do something. There is a saying that I like. It says:
If you can’t adopt, foster.
If you can’t foster, sponsor.
If you can’t sponsor, donate.
If you can’t donate, volunteer.
If you can’t volunteer, educate.
So, there is something that you can do. My husband and I are not fostering children at the moment, but we are doing what we can to help our community. I am the Call Mall coordinator for our county. The Call (Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime) is an organization in our state that partners with DHS to help communities grow awareness of the need for foster care and adoption. This is a faith based organization and is a great addition to our state to help DCFS (Division of Children and Family Services). The Call Mall is a resource for our community that allows foster parents in our county to get items they need for their foster children, at no charge. What I do is strictly volunteer, and I know that it is going to help the good of our community.
Go to this link to find out more information about The Call organization in Arkansas.
You may contact your local Department of Human Services office to find out more information on how to begin the foster care process in your State and county.
The main goal for foster children and parents who are in the foster care system is reunification. With approval and support from DCFS, you can work with the foster parents to encourage them and support them in this process. Some will not want this help and support, and that’s ok. You just keep caring for those little ones as best you can. I remember standing in a parking lot with the mother of a little boy that we had. This little boy was troubled and had many issues, and he had been moved from home to home because of his issues. No one wanted to take a chance on this sweet boy. The minute he did something that people couldn’t deal with, he was out. It made my husband and I nervous as well because we had just taken a newborn a few weeks before. We soon got in a good, stable routine with this young boy and he began to do much better. The single mom was taking necessary steps to get her son back. She and I stood in a parking lot one day and she had tears streaming down her face. She thanked me for taking a chance on her boy and keeping him, even when it got hard. She told me how it broke her to see him being moved from place to place and she not be able to do anything about it. I hugged her and told her that she was going to get her son back, and she did. And we kept him until he went home to his mom.
Foster care is hard, and we are not heroes. Make sure you have a good support system to help you when you are down. My husband travels for his job and there were times it was just me with a house full of kids. And guess what would happen most times when he left…someone would get sick! I am thankful for our support system and for the ones we could call at a moments notice for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even though we do not foster, we will still take children for a night or two to help other foster parents have a break. If you think you may want to help, seek out someone you know who is a foster parent and offer. If you are a foster parent and need help, seek out someone and ask for it. It truly does take a village when it comes to times like this.
Yes, the system is extremely broken. There will be children that will be placed back into a home where the parents are not ready for it. There will be judges that give chance, after chance, after chance when the parents are clearly showing signs of not doing what is told, and the children will suffer for it. Children will be pulled in different directions. The child’s case plan will change from one day to the next. DCFS has a huge turnover and you will most likely see multiple case workers during one child’s case. You will have to turn in multiple papers time and again, even though you have already sent it four different times. You cannot get caught up in the process or one will never do it. I ask that you think of the children. The parents are human, the case workers are human, you are human, and the children are human. There will be mistakes made and frustrations to deal with but it is definitely worth it knowing that you are caring for one of God’s children.
And most of all, PRAY. Pray and pray some more. You will need it. Pray for the Lord to guide your footsteps and to give you wisdom to know how to handle certain situations. Pray for the infant/child/teen in your home. Pray that God will help them deal with the situations they have been placed in and for the Lord to have His way in their case. Pray for the parents. Pray that God will direct their paths to a better life. Pray that He will see them through this trial in their lives and give them the opportunity to love their children as they should. Pray for God to give wisdom to the judge, case worker, counselor, and all who are involved in the case for these children.