Our Foster Care Journey: Stepping out to try Respite Care
By Mary H, Fostering Faithfully Respite Care provider, now licensing!
Just over two years ago I began to feel the tug on my heart regarding children in foster care. I felt like I heard the need for foster parents advertised everywhere and even spent time crying in our living room floor heartbroken for the children with no one to tuck them in at night. So I started praying. God, what can I do? I need to do something, but I don't know what? Well, the Lord answers prayers and soon after Foothills Community Church played a video talking about foster care in our area advertising an evening class to get more information. I told my husband I had to go and he, not quite sure what to do with my new conviction, went with me.
The class and continued prayers only increased our belief that we were supposed to get involved with foster care and it gave us a place to start. A big part of me was ready to jump right in and become a full time foster parent, but I knew two years ago we were not in a season to take on that commitment. However, I found that we could still get started and contribute to the families already loving on these kids. Michael and I started with volunteering at training events and eventually found our way into respite care.
Respite care helps to support current foster families by caring for their children short term. It gave needed support and some rest to the foster parents while giving us a chance to get used to fostering without a full time commitment. As we continued to work with respite care we have been able to increase our supplies to better accommodate having children in our home as well as preparing ourselves as a couple. It really has been a blessing to us to be involved with respite care and was easier to get started than I initially thought.
The best part of getting involved has been the children. We may have set out to bless those kids for nothing in return, but really every child we have cared for has blessed us more. This doesn’t mean that they would run into our arms the first moment we would meet, but as we would get to know them and them us we would experience more and more sweet moments. I have found that joy is simple. It doesn't take much to have fun with these kids. Often they just want to be with you and take part in what you’re doing whether that be picking up sticks in the yard, taking the dogs for a walk, or playing with some extra bowls and spoons while you cook. I won’t deny there is extra work having little ones in your home. While it may be painful at times knowing you only get to love them for a little while, it is worth it.
It can be scary welcoming someone you don't know into your home and to think about caring and loving kids without knowing any of their history, but you can't let fear of the unknown or of brokenness keep you from stepping out. These kids have been through struggles and maybe they are a little rough around the edges, but their needs are the same as any other child. You don't have to have any special skills to be a foster parent. We most certainly do not. We just decided we could be available. We can set another place at the table. We can be there when they laugh or cry. We can tuck them in at night. God has a wonderful way of healing brokenness, and it is a joy to be able to partner with Him to love these kids.