I’m going to hit you with a quote from a foster parent parent right out of the gate this time: “Accepting help doesn’t mean that you can’t do this.”
You guys…I’ve said this before and I will say it again. You cannot be a foster parent in a silo.
Well to be fair…you can. But it’s going to be a lot harder, and the chances of doing it well are honestly going to be decreased. So how do you find your help?
I’ve talked about care communities in the past and these are a huge way that foster families can receive help. In case you missed that post, this is a wraparound support of 4 to 6 individuals (or more if the foster family has many children) and can be a great, consistent source of support for a foster family.
But not everyone has access to a Care Community. In fact, most foster parents do not…so what do they do?
I encourage foster parents to form a support system largely composed of other foster parents. Now, that said, it definitely needs to include non-foster parents as well, because who else will you recruit by slowly drawing them into your world?!? But in all seriousness, your support should be comprised of both.
So where do you find these foster parents? I found mine through church and through a foster and adoptive parent support group. You don’t need to know very many and then it’s like the floodgates open…there are SO MANY of us that it’s often hard to believe you didn’t always see them.
Through these connections, find your people…the ones with whom you click, the ones who “sing the same song”, the ones who parent like you do (or how you WISH you did). And then just walk alongside them…and chances are that they’ll reciprocate.
The non-foster families are going to be the friends and family already in your life who want to walk alongside and support you in this new chapter.
So why, exactly, do we need these people and their support in our lives?
First, you’re going to have appointments…many appointments, so.many.appointments. Doctor appointments and therapy appointments and court hearings and visits and all the things. Plus just life overall.
You are going to need help getting the child here, there and everywhere…especially if there is more than one child. Independent of if you work full-time, part-time, or go to school, or any combination of those things, you will need help.
Now, no one understands what you’re experiencing like others in the same boat, so it helps to definitely have them in your corner. But, friends and family (who may not be in the same boat) definitely want to help as well. They may not always understand what’s happening in your world, but chances are they want to help. So, I encourage you to take advantage of their offers. Sometimes, if you are offered a meal, or a pick up of groceries or something else at the store…say yes to that; always a yes!
I know what you’re thinking: sometimes it feels embarrassing, or like it looks like you can’t handle it. But honestly, maybe you can’t…at least not on that day. Or week. And that is OK.
Accepting help does not mean you can’t do it. You totally can, but maybe you can do it better with a little help on the side.
Virtually anything you do can be done more easily with help…why would foster care be any different?