Charlotte’s head hit the pillow just after midnight. Even though she was exhausted and wanted to sleep, all she could do was stare at the shadows playing across the dark ceiling from the streetlight outside the window. Her mind raced. Charlotte and her husband, Jake, had just brought a child in foster care into their home at the beginning of the month. Now that they were a foster family, and maybe someday an adoptive family, Charlotte discovered that they needed all the foster care support they could get. She just wished more people knew how to support a foster family.
While they adored Max, the addition of a child in foster care brought a considerable element of change into their lives. Their family was adapting to having a third child in the house, and they were discovering the nuances of each other’s personalities daily. There were a few negative behaviors that Max had picked up during his young life that needed correcting.
Jake and Charlotte’s other kids liked Max, and the three of them got along well most of the time. Charlotte strived to love Max as her son, even though there was some uncertainty about how long he would be living with their family.
While she wouldn’t change a single thing, and she loved being a foster mom, Charlotte was tired. She was so thankful for the foster care support system that she had through their families, friends, and others in the community who came alongside their family.
Foster and Adoptive Families Need Support
There is so much joy in being able to bring a child into one’s home, loving and supporting them through a difficult time in their lives. Foster and adoptive families can make all the difference in the lives of those children. However, it’s tough being a foster or adoptive family. Bringing a new family member into your home brings changes of all shapes and sizes.
Families who have fostered or adopted a child need the love and support of other families in the community around them. It’s critical to support these foster and adoptive families for the family to succeed and thrive in the faces of these new joys and challenges.
You don’t have to be an expert to help. All you need is a willingness to serve. God calls us to care for those who are in need, especially children in need of foster care or adoption. Jesus tells us that, “As you did to one of the least of these, my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).
By reaching out to foster and adoptive families, we are telling them, “I see you. I see what you are doing, what you are going through, and I care about how God is using your family to bless the lives of others.” Supporting these families shows them that they matter in ways words can’t express.
How to Support an Adoptive or Foster Family
Here are seven ways that you and your family can help support an adoptive or foster family in your community. If you don’t know a family with foster or adopted children, reach out to your local foster care or child placement agencies to find out how you can help. Foster care support can come in many shapes and sizes. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Ask How You Can Serve Them
The best way to learn what needs a foster or adoptive family has is to ask them. Each family may have different needs at different times, so asking how you may serve them can help you focus on supporting them in the areas they are most in need.
2. Deliver a Meal
Food is always a great way to support a foster or adoptive family. Whether it’s taking a family a meal that you’ve cooked or providing them with a gift card so that they can order dinner, you are helping to take some of the load off of parents who may be tired and need a break from cooking.
Here are a few other creative ideas of ways you can deliver a meal to an adoptive or foster family in your community:
- Bring them breakfast. For example, bring donuts and coffee on a Saturday morning.
- Deliver a cup of the mom or dad’s favorite coffee in the morning.
- Create a lunch basket full of fixings for sandwiches. You might include bread, lunch meats, cheese, and condiments.
- Build a healthy snack basket full of goodies for the whole family.
- Get multiple families involved and create a meal train, where a different family provides dinner each night.
- If you’re baking cookies for the holidays, put together a cookie platter to deliver to the family.
- Deliver warm, fresh-baked bread.
- For holidays, baskets of different foods and treats can help with their family dinner.
Ask if the family has any dietary restrictions, and be mindful of those restrictions. There are many alternatives and options available.
3. Create an Activities Basket
Another way to show support is to create ways for the family to spend time together. You might deliver some board or card games, sidewalk chalk, or puzzles. The gift of an afternoon out of the house could also be an excellent way to support a family. Getting them tickets to the zoo, botanical gardens, aquarium, amusement park, or museum are great ways to give the kids new experiences and give them some exercise.
4. Help With Yardwork or Housework
Your whole family can get involved with helping a foster or adoptive family with maintenance around the house. For example, your kids can rake leaves in the yard or help with gardening. Or you might choose to help with laundry, dishes, or cleaning the house. A gift card to a maid service can be helpful to clean and sanitize the home.
5. Write a Note
Writing notes and sending cards can be a great way to encourage and support a foster and adoptive family. Get your whole family involved in making and decorating some cards, then have every member of your family write a note to each person in the adoptive or foster family. Some ideas might include a note of encouragement or sharing some holiday or summer traditions that your family does. During Christmas, you might send one card for each of the twelve days of Christmas.
6. Help With the Holidays
The holidays can be a difficult time for foster and adoptive families. Since this is a natural break in school, the holidays tend to be a season where children in foster care move to different homes. Also, foster parents don’t receive any extra allowance for Christmas presents from the foster care system. Foster care support can run especially thin during this time of year. One of the ways you can help support a family is by helping with the holidays. Here are some holiday ideas:
- Help with clothing needs, such as socks.
- Purchase the kids a new outfit. They may have hand-me-downs much of the year, but kids want to feel like they fit in with the other kids. Having a brand new outfit that’s all theirs can make them feel on top of the world.
- Buy a fun game or toy for them.
- Do an ornament exchange or make ornaments for their family.
- Provide the materials for the family to make popcorn strings or paper chains to decorate their house.
7. Cover Them in Prayer
A critical way to support foster and adoptive families is by praying for them. We need to pray that foster parents would show unconditional love to the kids in their home. We also need to pray for the parents’ marriages and that they would remember to have a date night and reconnect. Prayer is necessary for foster kids’ behaviors not to be so unmanageable that it would cause the family to suffer. Lifting these families up in prayer is instrumental in the success of the foster and adoptive family and is a key element to foster care support.
Is Adoption or Foster Care on Your Heart?
Perhaps you have been feeling the tug on your heart to become even more involved with children who need foster care or adoption. God may be asking you to prayerfully consider whether you could serve in this area and make a difference in a young person’s life. Adoption and foster care is a beautiful gift! If you would like to learn more about foster care or adoption, visit WaitNoMore.org or email [email protected].
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