Supporting a foster or adoptive family following the placement of their child(ren) is an incredible gift. For the families, the help received during the transition period of welcoming a child (or children) into their home is crucial. Having a network of people to pray, and help in practical ways, allows the family to focus on getting to know and bond with the child(ren),
Understandably, after the 'new' wears off, people often believe everything is settled. The child(ren) has been home for several weeks/months/years - so the family should be comfortably adjusted to their new routine and normal, right? Not usually.
Even long term, foster and adoptive families hit seasons when things are especially challenging. These times often arise quite unexpectedly. The family, leaning heavily on God - can be quickly drained of energy and resources. Think of it this way: foster care and adoption isn't a sprint that's completed with finalization or the child seeming 'adjusted.' It is a life-long process of healing, redemption, beauty, and restoration.
The following list is by no means exhaustive, and every family has varying desires/needs/situations. But these 5 suggestions will most likely be a blessing to any foster or adoptive family you know - no matter how long their little love(s) has been home!
Pray for the child(ren) and family. When appropriate, pray with the family. Take the time to ask for specific prayer requests and let them know you're praying for them!
2. Take the time to understand.
Sometimes, we foster/adoptive families hesitate to share too much, too often because we don't want to overwhelm, bore, or burden someone who isn't interested. Taking time to research issues and diagnosis that apply to the family's situation is one of the most helpful things you can do. There are youtube videos, online articles, books, and websites that can give an overview of most foster/adoption related issues, as well as most diagnoses (medical or psychological). You don't have to know it all - but your willingness to spend time learning about what's impacting our child(ren) and family is an indescribable gift.
3. Don't be afraid to get in the mess with us.
Kids from hard places carry trauma, grief, and loss - and there's nothing pretty about that. It can manifest in ugly, embarrassing, crazy, unpredictable, uncomfortable ways. Don't look away every time it isn't all rainbows, sunshine, and candy sprinkles. Because I assure you, if you do, you will miss the most crucial opportunities to offer support. "Liking" adorable pictures on facebook or commenting on the cuteness/politeness/wonderfulness of our child(ren) is sweet. But a friendly, familiar face in the midst of absolute chaos is priceless!
4. Use your strengths to lighten the load.
Love to cook? Make a meal. Are you a handy man/woman? Assist with a home repair or project. Love kiddos? Hang out with the child(ren) or be a mothers' helper. Do you teach music, dance, gymnastics, or horseback riding? Gift the family with some lessons or offer a long term discount. (This may allow a family that could never afford these lessons to do something that would bring healing and fulfillment to their child(ren)!) Have more money than time? Give practical gifts: diapers, clothes, shoes, grocery gift cards, paper plates --- things families can use on a daily basis that may not be glorious, but are gloriously helpful! (One adoptive family we love receives a gift of toilet paper with great gratitude!)
5. When you see a need or hardship, rally the troops.
It isn't an exaggeration to say that most foster/adoptive families will have periods of crisis long term. Especially vulnerable times are as they reach mile stones and experience triggers. When those times arise, families can fall into survival mode - doing everything they can simply to welcome the grace and healing only God can bring into their home and hearts. Even asking for help can be too much.
With respect for the situation (whatever it may be) and with permission from the family (when appropriate), rally a group of trusted individuals to pray, speak encouragement, and help with practical needs when possible.
IMPORTANT NOTE!: Don't assume the family will ask for help if it's needed OR that someone else must be helping. You'd be surprised how many families walk through hard times alone because others don't realize the severity of the situation, or because it's so severe they assume others offering support.
If you took the time to read this, chances are your heart is to offer support to a foster/adoptive family - God bless you! Just letting the family know you took the time to figure out how to help, will be an encouragement and blessing to them. Please know how very much you, friends, are appreciated! When you minister the love of Jesus to us, as we're striving to minister the love of Jesus to our child(ren), it's a refreshing words cannot describe!
Here you will find the musings of a homeschooling, work from home, adoptive Momma of 7! Adventures in faith, family, adoption, and training up a tribe to follow hard after Jesus are spilled into these posts --- most often written with a cup of coffee in hand. I hope you'll stick around a while and find something - more likely SOMEONE! - that brings you hope!
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