Let’s admit it. A stereotype exists for foster families. When I say foster, most picture the family that drives a large van or nowadays something like a Sprinter, has boxes of diapers and clothes stacked around their house, and the parents always have that “stressed but I am happy look”.
Then we say, “I am glad they are able to do that because I couldn’t”. After we excuse ourselves from fostering or adopting children, we don’t think about it until it confronts us again.
I am one of those persons that said that I could never be that kind of parent. I know that I couldn’t handle the chaos and change with many kids struggling with different kinds of trauma. I have enough of my own stuff to handle honestly.
However, in every community across our country children wait for a family to take them in either to foster or adopt.
When this fact confronted my wife and I, we knew that we needed to find our role. That didn’t mean we did something beyond our ability. We did decide to get licensed to foster children, but we wisely decided to begin by fostering one child. In 2011 we had one placement, an eight-month-old boy. His biological family worked on reunification for about 12 months before the state terminated their parental rights. Three months later we adopted him.
To this day he is the only child we fostered or adopted.
It is easy when you enter the foster/adoption world to feel that you aren’t doing enough if you don’t have a house full of kids. Don’t pay attention to that.
Here is my plea. Don’t hide behind the stereotype of what kind of family it takes to foster or adopt. Also, don’t succumb to the pressure to do more than you are capable or ready to handle. Instead consider how you can stand up for One Child.
- Foster or adopt one child so that you can pour your energy into them.
- If you don’t foster or adopt, become an “aunt or uncle” to a family that does foster or adopt children.
- Get certified to babysit if they are a foster child.
- Spend time with the family enough that the child knows you.
- Celebrate birthdays, attend school events, and so on.
- Mentor a child.
- Check with your local school about mentoring. (Listen to this podcast interview with my friend Joe Sierra who has mentored elementary students for several years)
- Usually this commitment consists of only one hour a week, but it impacts the child for a lifetime.
- Become part of a support team for a foster or adoptive family.
- A common challenge for foster and adoptive families is isolation.
- You can help by providing practical help like meals, transportation, and encouragement.
- Advocate for a child in the foster care system. One great way is volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
What do you say? If you can’t foster or adopt 10 children, can you stand up for One Child?
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