A Foster Parent Wish List for Herself and Her Kids
We would like to welcome Kelley Rose Waller to the team of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. A published author and devoted Foster Parent, Kelley will be sharing her experiences and insights in the areas of foster families, grief, parenting and other issues we deal with here on Hope 4 Hurting Kids. Her writing is direct and inviting, and we are certain that you will both enjoy her writing and learn from her experiences. We are excited to have her as part of the team!
I don’t know where the line to qualify as a “veteran foster parent” is, but I’m sure I’m not there. Still, I’ve read a bunch of these kinds of lists written by foster parent bloggers, so I’m adding my thought-socks to the laundry pile.
Here’s what foster momma would like from you…
1. Listen when she talks, but don’t give her suggestions unless you understand the situation. “Have you tried using apricots to help him poo?” is a great any-mom tip. “Did you tell the judge that he’s constipated?” is probably the place where you’ve enter an area you know nothing about. So, just listen if she complain and tell her you’re praying for God to be glorified in the situation.
2. Ask her what’s going on without offering commentary on what you think is best. “Did the judge say you can keep him yet?” isn’t exactly hiding what you think. Try, “How are things going?” or “Have you heard anything new?” She wants to know that you care, but frame it in a way that isn’t smashing her instep on a Lego.
3. Please make her the “foster parents” instead of him the “foster child”, “foster son”, or “foster kid”. Can he just be a regular ol’ kid and she’ll be the weird one: the foster momma? Please label her instead of him.
4. Don’t tell her that you know what God’s plan is. His plan is good. Period. What you think is good may not be his plan. Also, not using words but smugly nodding with a wink wink nudge nudge is the same thing.
5. Actually pray for her family, and if she gives you a specific request, follow up so she knows you listened and care.
6. Yes, she want meals and babysitting and laundry folders and dish-doers if her family get a new placement. She didn’t birth a baby but she does have 4,392 people in her home doing evaluations this week plus 223 doctor’s appointments tomorrow and three supervised visits today. And everybody’s gotta eat.
7. Don’t judge his birth parents. Just don’t. You don’t know anything, and she’s not going to tell you. Stop judging, because it wouldn’t matter if a T-Rex and Cleopatra were his parents.
8. Children have ears. Don’t ask complicated or sensitive questions in front of kids: foster kid, biological kid, neighbor kid, your own kid. They are all corn; they all have ears. Wait for privacy. In the same vein, though, explain what her family does to your own kids in age-appropriate language. You may think they’re too young to understand, but so are the kids she’s parenting. Choose the difficult road that leads to enlightening your own family to truth. And then work together when the awkward kid-question moments come (because they will), and that’s ok. Focus on safe. Kids can understand what “safe” feels like, and that’s usually enough for the little ones.
9. Stop telling her she’s a good person for doing this. Just stop it. You can tell her she smells good or her hair looks nice or that her words were a creative use of discipline techniques or that she is giving this child a great period of safety in his life but, for goodness sake, please stop telling her she’s a good person for doing this. You mean well, but she wants to punch you in the throat. Seriously. Stop it.
10. Love these children. Smile. Laugh. Hug. Play. Hold. Help. Reach. Snuggle. Love these children. Love them so much. Love them like Jesus does.