Over fifty children graced my home during the seven years I was a foster mom in North Carolina. Some for just a few hours, or a weekend, and others for extended periods of time. The love and time my husband and kids invested in these children contributed to us being voted foster parents of the year by our county’s Department of Social Services. I want to give encouragement to others interested in foster care and current foster families.
Throughout the Bible God talks about looking out for orphans. A great example, is found in the book of Esther. Mordecai raised his cousin, Esther, as his own daughter after her parents died. This example may sound spiritual, but if you’re like me, there are times you don’t feel very spiritual. The foster system, the birth family, and the children themselves sometimes make things frustrating.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.Psalm 68:5-6a
The Foster Child
I, too, was a foster child, and saw how overwhelmed my foster mom could get. From the age of three until almost seven, I lived in six different foster homes until I was placed with my adoptive parents. Each of these families had different rules I was expected to know without being told. Many times I frustrated my foster moms because I’d forget what was expected of me.
I wished things were explained to me, not just the rules of the foster home, but why my mom didn’t want me. Why she didn’t love me. I was in my twenties before I learned my biological mother was plagued with mental health issues, which weren’t understood then like today. So, throughout my childhood and into adulthood, I believed I was unlovable.
I’ve learned many foster children struggle with feeling unwanted and unloved. Often believing the family situation is their fault. Knowing this, I would like to share some ideas on how you can help your foster feel wanted and loved:
- One way to help is to tell your foster children their mom loves them the best she knows how, but isn’t able to take care of herself right now, much less another person. This helped many of our children feel more at ease.
- I would pray with them for God to help them be strong, feel safe while their mom did what she needed to so they could be reunited, and for peace if things didn’t turn out as the child wanted.
Maybe if someone had taken time to say these things to me, my heart would have ached less. I know not all things are good, but there is comfort in God’s promises. And, His word is the best encouragement for foster kids and foster families.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28 NASB)
Prayerful Encouragement for Foster Families
Now, here are seven tips to help make the first few days and weeks of fostering go a little smoother. I base these on my experience from both ends of the fostering—the child and the mom.
- Ask God to make clear His plan for you to foster. You’ve said yes to God but has your family? It is super important that your family is on board. Satan doesn’t like you to influence these children or their parents in God’s ways, especially believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.
- You will need a support system outside your family. Being a foster mom is a challenge and requires you take time to recharge and refresh, physically and spiritually, so you’ll avoid burnout. This might be a friend who offers to take you to lunch, or a weekly Bible study, or out shopping. (To the Mom Who Needs Rest, Frustrated to Joyful Mom)
- If possible, find out ahead of time some of your new foster child’s favorite foods and cook these the first night or two. If you can’t, pick something most kids enjoy—chicken nuggets/tenders, pizza, or hot dogs. Even if you don’t usually eat this way, you might consider making some allowances for the child’s sake.
- Post a list of family rules where they can be seen (like on the fridge). Keep the wording to a minimum and go over the list a few times for the first several days. This will help the child not be fussed at unnecessarily or feel guilty for breaking a rule they’re unfamiliar with.
- Foster children may not be social at first. Talk about your family and goofy things that have happened. Assure them of their parents love. Let the child know you’re happy to have them in your home.
- Show compassion and understanding, but be careful not to allow them to use your kindness or their challenging situation to manipulate in order to excuse a wrongdoing or shirk responsibilities.
- Your honesty, kindness, and genuine love make the child feel safe and opens the door for you to share God’s love.
Children in foster care need to experience a stable family and see how they love each other, especially the way a mom is supposed to love her children. That’s why God chose you—you’re exactly what your foster child needs.
Supporting Foster Families
According to the most recent statistics from the Children’s Bureau, there are currently more than 400,000 children in foster care in the United States and this number continues to rise.
While not all of us can take in foster children, all of us can pray and seek ways to help. Remember that the Lord has a heart for the orphans. “Learn to do right; seek justice and correct the oppressor. Defend the fatherless and plead the case of the widow.”( Isaiah 1:17)
Here are a few ideas for providing encouragement to foster families:
- Pray for them.
- Send notes or cards.
- If possible, plan a girls’ weekend or help take care of children while the parents get away.
- Offer to do chores, run errands, or while you’re shopping call to see if the family needs anything.
Norma Poore was a foster mom for almost seven years, with over fifty children gracing her home and two of these were adopted into her family. With great compassion and empathy she understood what these children needed because she was a foster child herself for several years. Norma is award winning writer, an occasional cohost on Writers Chat (a subsidiary of Serious Writer, Inc.), and posts biweekly summaries for Writers Chat on Almost an Author. She married her knight in shining armor 38 years ago and together they have six children and nine grandchildren, with two more on the way. Her faith in Jesus Christ has brought her through many trials, especially with her special needs kids. Norma’s compassion for others is the reason she writes inspirational non-fiction for woman.
You can connect with Norma on social media.
On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mompoore/
On Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/poore_norma
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