Excited, anxious, fearful, all of these things describe the feeling of becoming a foster parent. The feeling of not knowing what to expect can be thrilling and worrisome all at the same time, but let us tell you it is 100% worth it.
We are the Ives family. We have been fostering for going on 4 years and have had 14 different children in our home throughout that time period. We have one biological child, have adopted a sibling group of 3, helped children reunify with family, and helped children transition to adoptive placements.
We heard about fostering a lot of different ways actually. God was consistently trying to tell us his plan for us and the way we could better serve him, but we just needed to be obedient and listen to his calling. We started going to adoption picnics before we had even began the process of opening our home. We didn’t go to see prospective adoptive matches, we actually just went to spend time with all of the kids and have fun.
Those were some of the best times. Realizing these kids…are just that, they are just normal kids going through a rough time in life through no fault of their own. They need adults to love them, care for them, and show them what healthy relationships should be.
After that we began the process to become licensed. We aren’t going to sugarcoat it; it was a long process and frustrating at times. The majority of the time it felt like hurry up and wait because we were so excited to be starting this chapter in our lives, and ready to start helping children. The training helped as far as what to expect once we became a foster home and tips on how to parent the different children. Trauma can affect kids many different ways and learning how to help them and support them through that trauma is very important.
When we first chose to become foster parents we weren't interested in adopting. We only wanted to help as many families as we could through fostering the children and being support systems for their family members. Little did we know God has bigger plans for us. He let us have the wonderful opportunity to be able to adopt three amazing kids.
All of the different 14 children that entered our home came to us with a different amount of belongings. We have had some come with bags and totes, some with a backpack. Some of them were unfortunate and didn't come with any belongings. This is where DHS and The Call helps in amazing ways and makes sure to help foster families with getting the belongings that the children need.
The advice that we would have for anyone considering fostering is, DO IT. When people ask us about fostering their response is, "I just couldn't be a foster parent, I would get too attached." What we have to say to that is... that is exactly what these children need.
They need someone to show them a healthy attachment. Being that healthy attachment for them helps them through this very traumatic time in their lives. They know someone is on their side fighting for them and supporting them. Yes, you will get attached as you should, but remember the goal of reunification and remember how your are impacting that family's life by being there, so the family can work on doing what they need to do for the children to go back home.
The Call has been the biggest support for us and still is. It truly is amazing the things that they doing for resource families. They set up date nights so parents can go have a couple hours with no kids. They set up trainings, support groups, things for moms, things for dads, fun family days, and holiday get togethers. They are always trying to come up with different ways to support the resource families.
Also going to these events allowed us to meet the other resource families in our area, that way we can be support systems for one another. We can relate to the things the other families may be going through, or someone may be able to give advice from past experience. The Call closet is also a very valuable resource. Resource families are able to go up there and grab things they may need for their foster children. This could be anything from a toothbrush to a swing for a baby. If they don't happen to have it at the closet they will find a way to get it for you.
If you can't foster, think about volunteering. There are so many small gestures that help in tremendous ways. It could be providing a family a meal for those stressful nights. It could be someone to call to go grab something when getting a late night or last minute placement. It could be as simple as being there for someone to talk to.
To anyone thinking about becoming a resource family, our advice would be to take the plunge. If you enjoy kids or just doing for others in general then this could be for you. Reach out to your local Call office and find out when the next info meeting in your area will be.