I meet a lot of people who tell me “I really wish I could foster, but…” and I completely get it. Many people love the idea, but there are so many understandable “buts.” The truth is, like many hard things, I believe that fostering is a calling. Not everyone is called or at least not called right now. As a foster parent, however, I can assure you there is so much more that goes on beyond the walls of the immediate home. You may not be called to be a foster parent, but there are many who foster.
When we adopted our daughter, we had a custom piece of artwork done. It’s a cute little teepee with the words “It Takes A Village” scripted underneath. Above it are a bundle of the most precious fingerprints in our life. They are the those of our immediate family and of aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins and the dearest of friends. The one in the center is that of the Judge who changed our lives forever with her ruling of what was best for our daughter. There are also fingerprints of Home Development Workers, Case Workers, and our CASA volunteers. So I hope you hear my heart, when we used the words, “It Takes A Village,” it truly does. The Village People matter on a grand scale and they matter in the details.
The Village People are Support.
Just like you cannot raise a biological child alone, you cannot support a foster child without support. In the beginning, before we could foster, we had to have someone watch our bio-children so we could do all of the necessary training. I am still grateful for those people and consider them an important piece of this journey. When our daughter was initially placed with us, she was too young to go into childcare and we worked full-time. Someone stepped up to watch her during the day until she was several months old and ready for daycare. When we needed clothes, people offered up whatever they could. They bought us diapers, formula and bottles. We were so grateful to have enough to get us going and then some.
The Village People are Willing to be Inconvenienced.
One Thursday afternoon, we wanted to accept a new placement, but we had to work on Friday. My dear friend offered to babysit a child she had never met so that we could say yes to the placement and have time to find childcare. Another one of our placements came in, having just had a birthday, but no celebration. We threw a spontaneous party and tons of friends and family came out, with gifts in hand, to make them feel welcomed and loved. In another situation, a friend asked if we “just happened to need a bed” she was getting rid of? Boy, yes, did we need a bed! Recently, we had a sweet neighbor who stepped up, offering to watch all of our kids, so my husband and I could have a date night. Our circle of friends, and even their children, lovingly do not hesitate to include the foster kids in our plans and playdates. The Village People are generous and patient with our ever-changing life. Frankly, it would be easier to not buy-in to our journey, or to be frustrated that it’s not always convenient to be a part of it. But that’s not what they do. They show up, give hugs to tiny-strangers, and jump into the deep end with us – every single time.
The Village People are Invaluable.
I know that not every foster family has a village and I never take for granted that we do. It’s so important to acknowledge our Village for who they are and what they are. Not only to us but also to our children and to the entire system as a whole. They are foster family and foster friends. They are encouragers, supporters, caregivers and a listening ear when we need it. It never goes unnoticed. Everyone in the Village is an invaluable part of the master plan for these precious children’s lives. God knew that each of our Village People would be needed in their own unique way. When we all do our part, these children have the best opportunities at successful outcomes!
You Can Be Part of Someone’s Village.
Don’t ever look in the mirror and say “I really want to foster, but I just can’t right now.” Maybe they cannot sleep under your roof and maybe you cannot be their foster momma, but hear me when I encourage you, there is so much you can do to be part of a foster child’s life. And what you do truly, truly matters. These Village People rejoice when a case goes well, they hurt when it doesn’t, and they ache with love for these children in our home. The Village’s feelings matter so much through this process and I believe in my heart that when the child wins, we all win.
Our little family is grateful beyond words for the people in our life who have chosen to journey with us. It’s an emotional, confusing, long and rewarding journey. It is not easy for anyone involved, but it’s absolutely worth it. We may be the foster parents, but we know that we could never do this without our Foster Village.