Monday, August 20, 2012

Fostering Hope - Support for Foster Families

This week I want to focus on the families within our communities that serve as Foster Families and how we can encourage and support them. The Foster Care System is a busy place and the personal needs of these families can often get overlooked in the daily operations of navigating "The System". I've got several ideas to share, but first want to introduce you to an organization that is already doing just that.

A couple of minutes on their home page and it is CLEAR that they have the right idea about exactly what families engaged in foster care need!
Their mission:
"To affirm and support foster parents in their task of caring for neglected and abused children."

As a foster parent, I can say that affirmation and support are undoubtedly a very significant need....and unfortunately, a very limited resource.
Typically, what is received as affirmation are well intentioned, but misguided comments like...
"Wow. You are amazing! I could never do that, I would get too attached."
While I am careful to speak only for myself and my own personal experiences for the most part, I think I can safely say this is the WORST thing you can say to a foster parent. I'm certain it is not the intention, but it implies that in some way we are super human and don't become attached or have feelings. Truth is, fostering is very difficult and is an emotional roller coaster that many days can be overwhelming and full of heartache. Whether you have a child temporarily in your home that you instantly bond with and can't imagine ever having to leave or whether you have a child in your home that refuses to or is unable to bond to you, or even accept proper love and care due to past say it is hard is an absolute understatement. Foster Parents do not choose to open their hearts and homes to provide foster care because it is easy.

Foster families....foster parents and their children....face a myriad of emotions and unpredictable daily life that is hard to explain if you've never experienced it yourself. While there are most definitely blessings, they do not come without challenges and disappointments.

All the more reason organizations like Fostering Hope and individuals like you & I have a unique opportunity to provide support and encouragement!

The final sentence on the Fostering Hope home page says this...
"By supporting foster parents, we see better outcomes for children in foster care."
Bottom line. That's it. It matters in a BIG way!

Currently there are Fostering Hope locations in Colorado Springs and Milwaukee and hopes for more in the future. You can learn more on their website here, and follow along on their facebook page here.

I hope you will join me this week as we consider a few very practical and simple ways that we can reach out to those who are providing the daily care for children in the foster system. Certainly an opportunity to bless and be blessed at the same time.
Thanks for caring,
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