Most of you know that I have a passion for foster care and adoption. We’ve recently started our 7th year as licensed foster parents for Racine County. We have six children, two of which we have adopted through foster care. We are currently licensed to take one foster child, ages 0-18 years old. We are mostly helping now as emergency situations come up, and also with respite care (providing short-term care for a foster child if the current foster family needs a break.) One of my favorite things to do is to share our story, and give honest answers to questions people may have about fostering and adoption. I remember how excited, yet scared, we were when we finally decided to get licensed. I believe most of the fear comes from the unknown. I’m pretty sure all foster parents go through a range of emotions when they decide to take this plunge. I have often heard foster care described as an emotional roller coaster. It truly does feel that way at times. While we’ve experienced some tough times, I am here to say that the blessings far outweigh the hard stuff. We have had the opportunity to meet some pretty incredible kids and their families. We have made some deep friendships that will last a lifetime. God has given us two of the most amazing, beautiful children through this journey, and we can’t imagine life without them.
All of this being said, I know that being a foster parent isn’t for everyone. Each member of your family has to be “IN” in order for this to work. Perhaps you have a heart for foster children, but are unable to become licensed, for whatever reason. There are still many ways you can support kids in foster care. Here are some suggestions:
1.) Most of us know of a foster family in our community. All it takes is a simple background and home safety check, and you could babysit, giving the foster parents a much needed night out. The home check is quick and easy. Do not feel intimidated. No need to make sure your house is mother-in-law clean, I promise you. If that was the case, they would never have given us our license in the first place.
This is a small glimpse of what most of my doors leading outside look like. (By the way, we have no animals that fit through that little pet door. It’s mostly used to pelt unsuspecting family members with Nerf bullets as they pass by.)
2.) What about providing a meal once a month for a foster family? Can’t cook? Ha, funny, neither can I. What family doesn’t love pizza deliver on a Friday night?
3.) Don’t think you can use a gift card you received for Christmas? Donate it to your local county foster care agency. They can, in turn, give it to a foster family or maybe an older teen foster child to buy new clothes. Some of these kids have only ever had hand-me-down clothes. What a treat it would be to buy a brand new outfit! Even better… an outfit they picked out themselves.
4.) Hold a jacket drive, especially during the Winter. I’ll never forget the second foster child that was placed with us. I picked up this sweet little two year old girl, wearing a size 6, stained and ripped boys jacket. It broke my heart to think she didn’t even have a warm hat or mitten, much less a decent jacket that fit her.
5.) Ask the company you work for if you could hang posters in your workplace to bring awareness of the need for foster parents in your community. We can always use more foster parents in Racine, especially right now, as there simply aren’t enough homes for all of the children needing care. New sibling groups coming into care are being separated into different foster homes because there simply isn’t enough room in the current licensed homes to take them all. We need more foster homes!
6.) Become a mentor for an older teen in foster care. Some of these kids just need a trusted friend who will guide them into adulthood. Maybe they need someone to come and cheer them on at their softball game. Perhaps they need a friend to take them shopping for a prom dress or help out with graduation needs. Kids aging out of the system need a support system established as they turn 18, and venture out into this world. Most of us had a family to encourage and support during this time of our life. Sadly, many foster kids aging out of the system do not. Maybe you can be a friend and mentor to a young adult at this scary time of their life…a time when they may need it the most.
7.) Sponsor a “lunch and learn” at your business or church! Have foster and/or adoptive parents share their experiences and find out how you can become a foster parent. Human services and foster care ambassadors are always willing to give informational presentations! The info sessions can be five minutes or over an hour, including a power point presentation. We are willing to work with whatever time slot you have available. Feel free to contact me personally to to set up a time! firstname.lastname@example.org
These are just some suggestions on how you can support foster children in your community. They go to your kid’s schools. You pass them at the grocery store. They live right down the street from you. They didn’t ask for any of this. It’s not their fault. It is all of our responsibility to do what we can to show kids in foster care that they are loved. These kids need to know that someone genuinely cares for them, and is fighting for them. We really need your help.
For Racine County, please contact Racine County Foster Care, for more information. As always, please feel free to contact me ANYTIME, as well. email@example.com