Most people know I became a mom through adoption – three times. A couple of hard years of infertility is how God led Greg and me to adoption. We had no idea what we were getting into, but once we were there, we knew that’s where we were supposed to be.
Adoption wasn’t our Plan B, but infertility was the heartache God used to get our attention. Obviously, not everyone is called to adoption or foster care. But God does call his followers to care for the fatherless and orphans.
If when we – as believers – claim to be pro-life, we have to do more than protest abortion. We don’t have to adopt or foster, but we do have to serve children who need love and moms who are choosing life. And some of those children and mommas are in the trenches of the foster system. Sometimes caring for orphans does mean growing your family through adoption or foster care, but many times it looks like helping families who are walking through these processes.
1. Show up with a meal.
Any time a regular routine is interrupted – even with something happy like new life – it’s hard to get to the grocery, plan meals, and prepare meals. And whatever you bring doesn’t have to be gourmet. Go to the local BBQ restaurant and get enough meat and sides to provide a few meals to the family adjusting to its new normal. Have a pizza delivered to them. Double whatever you’re making for your own family.
2. Offer specific help.
Think about this family’s life and offer to do something specific – go to the grocery, do laundry, sit with the baby so momma can shower, or mow the lawn. Texts that say “Let me know what I can do” are well-intentioned, but saying “I’m at the grocery store, what I can I get you?” are more practical.
3. Provide care or rides for children.
With the foster system come many appointments (pediatrician checkups, visitation with bio family, extracurricular activities, etc.) the family doesn’t have much control over. If you know a family who is fostering, offer to help with any other kids in the home or be willing to transport kids to appointments.
4. Be on call to get supplies.
Foster situations often happen with little time to spare. If you know someone who suddenly has a new child in the home, offer to run to Walmart to get diapers, formula, clothes, activities, or whatever else that child may need. Children often come into foster homes with almost nothing. If you’re local to the Murray, KY area, we have a foster care closet where foster families can get free clothes and other supplies for their children. Please feel free to refer people to Partners in Care Foster Closet.
5. Let parents give gifts.
Foster children have a lot of people in and out of their lives. So, if you have something special to give a child, let the parents do that for bonding purposes. Depending on your relationship with the family, you may get a chance to bond with the child too, but give that time.
6. Understand you may not understand.
Even if you weren’t called to foster, your friend was. Be a listening ear and be there for whatever practical support is necessary, but don’t judge the way she’s bonding with a child that may not be in her home forever. This child needs love – and with that comes attachment. Yes, it’s hard. But God doesn’t promise he’ll call us only to easy things. He calls us to sanctify us – and that usually means doing something hard. In fostering, there are emotional challenges as well as the complications that come with a flawed system.
Serving foster families in these ways – or other ways that make sense for the people in your life – then you’re living out James 1:27. And my guess is you’ll get a whole new perspective that draws you nearer to God.
This is the third in this month’s ongoing series on being better together in honor of Foster Care Awareness Month. If you missed the earlier posts, I encourage you to read about how Hailey’s village has helped her as her family grew through foster care and how Bethany’s older kids specifically embraced her family’s journey into fostering.