Foster moms live in a constant state of unknowns. They go to bed at night not knowing if another child will be added to the family while the neighbors all sleep. They go to the park with their children, aware that at any moment they could get a phone call about a child in need. It can be hard to know exactly how to encourage a foster mom, because their needs are different from those of a biological mom. I have had many sweet people reach out to me and encourage me in different ways along our fostering journey. Here are some of the things that dear friends have done for me!
1. Offer to be “on call” for her
Because we never know who our next child or children will be, it is hard to be prepared for them! And there are many times that a foster mom will get a call about a child and will be told that the child will be there in less than an hour. Talk about panic! It is so nice to know that there is someone I can call who will help me buy diapers, formula, clothes or toys for our new child while I get the house ready for them. I have several people that I know I can call and say, “We have a three month old little girl coming. Can you run to the store for me and pick up some diapers and wipes and a few outfits for her?” Of course I reimburse them, but this kind act helps me to feel more ready and prepared to receive my new child.
2. Become a babysitter (or even better, a respite provider)
Finding babysitters for our foster kids can be really hard. We can’t just call up that sweet 16 year old from church to come sit with the kids at the last minute. We have to have background checks done and fingerprints run before we can leave a child with a babysitter for any length of time. And overnights are almost impossible, because respite providers have to go through several foster parent training classes. I just can’t ask my friends to give up a weekend for foster parent training just so that they can babysit our kids.
We do, however, have several friends and family members who have voluntarily filled out the paperwork to have background checks run and have gone to classes so that they can provide overnight care for our kids if the Teacher and I need to get away for a weekend. I can’t tell you how much this means to us! Ask your foster mom friend if you can have the paperwork so that you can help her by babysitting or providing respite care. She will be so grateful!
3. Bring a meal
Adding a child to the family is always tough. Adding a child who has been through trauma is extremely difficult on both the parents and all of the children involved. The first few days, weeks or even months after a child arrives can be very hard on a family. Foster moms are tired! Bless them by volunteering to cook a meal for the family. I have had a sweet neighbor do this for me many, many times. It is always such a relief to me to know that I have the night off from cooking!
4. Help her clean
Y’all, I can’t tell you how many times my neighbor and my mom have saved my rear by either watching my kids for me while I clean or just plain helping me clean. There was a time in the not so distant past when we were caring for five children (four of whom were under the age of three). We had caseworkers and CASA workers and everyone else under the sun in and out of our house on a regular basis. Now, no one expects anyone to have an immaculate house, but I didn’t want those people coming in on what looked like some epic battle from World War 3. So it has been a lifesaver to me to scoot some tiny little booties across the street so that I can get the house clean before a home visit. And it has been incredible to have a neighbor that has helped me fold clothes or wash dishes or scrub the floor while we rushed to get the house ready.
No foster mom (or any mom, for that matter!) is going to ask you to help her clean her toilets before a case worker comes over. You’re going to have to volunteer. But I can tell you that she is going to be SO THANKFUL!
5. Tell her it’s okay if she can’t come to an event
I have dealt with some serious guilt about having to miss various functions while fostering. Tell your friend that you know she’s working hard and that it’s okay if she can’t come. Give her the freedom to do what she needs to do for her kids and remind her that you’re there for her when she needs you. Make sure she knows that she’s doing a great job and that you are proud of her!