Respite: What is it?

Sanctimommy (noun) : a colloquialism used to refer to a person, usually a female, who has very opinionated views on child rearing and presents them upfront without any sense of humility.
 I’m sure you know the term, but even if you don’t, you know the person. The sanctimommy is that sanctimonious mommy (in case you didn’t catch that play on words) who listens to your parenting questions and quickly jumps in with the answer. The answer is typically peppered with ‘judgey’ comments about how she would only or never do something and often surrounded by words like organic, attachment, holistic, or kale. She’s bad news. She makes you think there’s one kind of child, one of kind of mom, one way of doing things.
In the foster care world, nothing brings out the sancti-foster-mommy like the issue of respite or vacation placements. Foster moms in “support” groups and online “support” pages (the breeding ground and domain of sanctimommies) will tear you to shreds in ten seconds flat if you hint that you may need a respite placement – meaning that you need someone to watch your child for one reason or another… because apparently you’re not entitled to the option of whether or not you need a babysitter for one thing or another. I won’t repeat the nasty and judgmental comments I’ve heard and read, but trust me, it can get ugly.
Let me be clear. I believe that foster children should be a part of their foster families in every way. They should be included in every activity and event and celebration and should never, EVER be made to feel like an outsider. I believe this completely. But there may be times that a foster family is in need of respite care for one reason or another and before I jump into my argument for why foster parents should open their homes to respite placements, I want to shed some light on why families may need them in the first place. (As always, keep in mind that I’m in Georgia and information may be specific to my state and different from yours.)
Family vacations without parent’s approval. There are certain decisions that biological parents can make for their children in foster care that are harder for me to accept than others. This is one of the hard ones. When fostering a child, his/her biological mother can refuse to grant permission for them to join in on family vacations, especially those going out of state. The reason: “She’s my daughter, not theirs.” Just because of this, sometimes families will seriously contemplate not going on these sort of (annual, highlight of the year, extended family-wide) trips. In attempt to help out with this and alleviate the stress that comes with this sort of thing, the foster care agency can provide ‘respite care’ for the child while you and your family are out of town.
Family vacations that were already planned before the child joined your family. I don’t think it’s a great practice to take a child in if you know you’re going to be going somewhere soon after, but sometimes things just happen, okay? When these kind of things happen it’s very normal for you to feel hesitant to take a child out of town/on vacation with your family so soon. You don’t know what kind of trauma that child has been through prior and may not need “so much change” at one time, or what kind of issues may come with that child either. We were faced with exactly this, we KNEW our placement was coming within a weeks span and had a weekend trip planned smack dab in the middle of it, but guess what? We would’ve taken the boys had they called with them before we left that Friday afternoon, but we did have a talk about “what happens if….” before they actually called so we weren’t pushed to make a decision on the spot. (Flash forward: they didn’t come…not just that weekend but at all. Have I ever mentioned how this world is forever changing?)
Family emergency. This is a big one, probably the biggest. A family who had an unexpected emergency come up. I once took two boys for a weekend while their foster mother went out of state for a funeral and all of the arrangements that went along with that. She wasn’t allowed to bring the two out of state at the time and even if she could’ve, it wasn’t really an appropriate setting for them at the time, especially since she hadn’t had the two boys all that long… not to mention, when dealing with children who may or may not have been through something traumatic to being in your care, you don’t know how the child(ren) will react to something like ‘a funeral.’
Not everyone is able to upend their life into becoming a permanent revolving door of foster children. Foster care is one of the greatest gifts in my life, but it’s a crazy and unique calling that doesn’t suit everyone. But respite care is different. If I’m married to foster care, then respite care is more like casual dating. Becoming a respite family doesn’t mean you’re committing your life and family to foster care forever and can be viewed more as a short term “service opportunity.” Do you want to get involved in foster care but aren’t able to care for children full-time? Consider getting licensed to do respite care.
Respite (noun) : a short period of rest or relief from something difficult.
Respite. The answer is in the name. While I don’t believe that foster parents should “take a break” from their foster children, I’ve had very limited experience as a foster parent. I’ve never felt like caring for a child is pushing me to my breaking point. I’ve never had to consider if having a child in my home is harming my other children (including other foster children.) And I’ve never considered giving up as a foster parent. But there are many, many foster parents who are in this position (50% of foster parents give up within the first year.) I don’t know what it’s like to be in these parents’ shoes. Maybe a short period of respite would’ve been just what they needed. You know what they say about glass houses and stones…I can’t remember either, but I think the point is you shouldn’t judge.
Those are some reasons why a foster family may need respite care for their foster children. But why should you, as a foster parent, deal with the “hassle” of taking a respite placement? Here’s my best argument for why:
  • Help a fellow foster family.
  • Get your foot in the “foster care door.”
  • Building relationships with other foster parents.
  • Help you get a grasp on what you and your family can handle.
  • Love on a child who just needs a little extra love.
No matter why a foster parent has placed their child in respite care (some of them aren’t great reasons,) the bottom line is that there’s a child in need of a home and love. And isn’t that what we all signed up for? A friend of mine describes respite placements as a “mini missions trip in your home.” It’s an opportunity to care for and love on a child, and one who’s maybe not known proper care and true love before. We’ve always whole-heartedly welcomed respite placements into our family, even if only for a few days. Maybe it’s the first time these children have experienced life like this. Or maybe these are things these children experience with their foster families on a regular basis and we get to be just another stop along the way, showing them what family can be, letting them know that they are loved.
If you have a heart to provide hands on care to foster children but don’t have the ability to do it full time, you can become licensed to be a respite provider. I have a friend who is a licensed foster parent but only provides respite care now that she’s adopted a few of her foster babies. She’s cared for a number of children for short periods of time when a placement couldn’t be found or a foster family had other commitments. Right now I also have another friend who has a newborn baby who needs the care of a stay at home mom for a short period until she’s old enough to be in day care – so guess what? She’s being that person for that child. As a respite provider, you give a great gift to foster parents and foster children, but only when you’re able for as long as you’re able.
If you are interested in doing respite/vacation placements, call your areas worker. The unit that places children often has a special list of parents that are willing to take respite placements. You can give the gift of a willing, loving respite care to your division, another foster parent, and (most importantly) a child!

5 Conversations to Think Through Before Having with a Foster Parent

  1. When I first tell you I’m going to become a foster parent…

What to skip: “Aren’t you worried? Those kids can be so tough. Let me tell you a story about a book I read (or worse… a movie I saw) about the foster care system and how I couldn’t stop crying about it for days.”

Here’s the thing: Nobody becomes a foster parent by accident. We apply, take classes, and go through licensure. Every step of the way, we have to confront massive questions about ourselves and our lives.. sometimes in 20-page handwritten applications. Even if we didn’t begin with that level of consideration, the system forces us to take that time to think about our choices.

What to say: “I’d love to know more about what led you to become a foster parent.”

This shows respect for all the work and thought I’ve put into this. If you listen to my story and then have follow-up questions? Great. But chances are, I’m going to answer a lot of your questions before you ask them. Like, yes, I do plan to invest in some indestructible furniture.

  1. If you’re thinking about the challenges of being a foster parent…

What to skip: “I could never do what you’re doing. It’d be too hard for me.”

This is like responding to someone’s “I’m pregnant!” announcement with, “Oh, but I’ve heard labor is SO PAINFUL.”

Honestly? We’ve all chosen to do painful things in life. So, maybe you haven’t chosen to be a foster parent. But you’ve probably risked vulnerability for love. You’ve moved away from friends and family. You’ve played a sport you loved even though you now have a knee surgeon on speed dial. People do painful things all the time. Think of how you got through the last painful experience you had. Think of what your loved one said while they held your hand and fixed you a glass of wine on top of a pile of ice cream.

And if you can’t stomach my rants about “The System,” or learning a new name every so often, or watching me go through the heartbreak of transition, I get it. It can be a lot. We can go our separate ways. Right now, I need friends who are ready to offer support.

What to say: “It sounds like there are going to be some rough times, but you can count on me. I might not know what to say, but I’m here for you. Do you think you’ll want wine or ice cream when your heart is broken?”

Both, please. I want both.

  1. When you’re thinking about how foster parenting might be different from other types of parenting…

What to skip: “I just think you’re missing out on the true experiences of parenthood, like pregnancy and labor and getting to name your child…”

If you stop to think about it, what you’re essentially saying is, “You will never be a real parent. Not fully.” And that’s a rejection of everything I’m working toward. I get it. The rhyme never said, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a lifelong entanglement with the child welfare system and a series of placements that will set your heart on a path of growing and breaking forever.”

Unless we grew up in the foster care system, none of us were taught how to do this. But I’m taking a deep breath and going for it.

What to say: “What parts of parenthood are you looking forward to?”

There are lots of experiences I’m going to get to have as a parent — and I’m excited! Ask me about them.

  1. If you think I’m doing the world a favor…

What to skip: “You’re doing such a great thing, saving those poor kids.”

There is nothing that gets under my skin faster than the savior narrative of foster care. There are no heroes and there are no villains — only the incredibly snarly, messy, complex, and beautiful families and people that make up this system. And I include myself in that system, by the way. I am snarly, messy, complex, and beautiful.

I am not saving anybody. I’m providing a safe and loving home for a child for as long as that child is with me. I’m going to school meetings and soccer practice and kissing bruised knees and tucking babies into bed each night. None of this is heroic — unless it is heroic when you do it, too.

Sure, kids who’ve been through significant trauma have a lot of healing to do. But giving them a safe place to do the work is not an act of heroism. It’s an act of humanity. If I get a medal for it, than so should you. And also your kid’s teacher. Possibly their doctor, too. And that really great babysitter.

Kids come into my house whole, not broken. They come with trauma and baggage and very few belongings. But they also come with wholly formed personalities, senses of humor, survival skills, smarts, and playfulness. There is nothing to fix, only to heal and continue to grow and thrive.

What to say: “Tell me about the kids you’ve cared for.”

When you say this, I see that you recognize my kids as individuals, as whole, sparkly, fabulous people.

And if you’re an experienced parent, I may need your advice, especially if I’m dealing with a situation I’ve never encountered before, like advocating for my kids in school or choosing a soccer organization. Ask about how they make me laugh, how they push my buttons — and I’ll ask you right back.

Because we’re there with other parents. Our kids may change, and we may have a lot more paperwork to fill out, but we are just as up to our elbows in mud, poop, grinning, anticipation, heartbreak, and exhaustion. And like other parents, we wouldn’t trade it for anything.

And last but certainly not least…

  1. If you’re stuck on thinking about when the kids go home…

What to skip: “I can never be a foster parent. I’d get too attached.”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard this. In fact, I hear it almost every single time me being a foster parent comes up. So, I want to clarify a few things…

There’s often an inclination, when a person enters the foster care journey, to not allow themselves to get attached to the children they’re caring for. They call it a safeguard for when they have to say goodbye. But, this defies the human wiring we have to love, and really doesn’t cut it. Here’s why…

First…I am not some woman with the super power to love and attach only to the extent that it won’t hurt me. That super power doesn’t exist. I loved my foster babies who were in my home before now, I love the ones who are currently in there and I’ll love the ones who are still to come as though they are mine. I fight the inclination to post a cute photo of the girls on Facebook every day. I am proud of every single milestone. Their eyes melt me, and their screams can dissolve me to tears. I love to hold them and play with them and get those super cute laughs. Their snuggles are the best. You could even say I’m attached. And it will hurt to say good-bye. So if you are the kind of person that would get “too attached,” congratulations. You’d be a great fit as a foster parent. So maybe we aren’t perfect, but we are loving, and we’re available. Bio is of course first choice. But when a bio family can’t provide that bonding in a safe and loving atmosphere, enter foster families.

We step in — and we get attached. At least, as much as we can. We stand in the kids’ corner, advocate for their needs, love them as if we gave birth to them, dream, and pray, and hope for them with all our might. And then one day, we have to say good-bye.

We have to let go and hope that all of our love and sleepless nights and fears and hopes and prayers and meetings and sensory tools and visits and preparations were enough.We hope that we bonded and they bonded to us. We hope that we gave them the gift of the ability to trust others. To believe in their own worth. To know they are loved. To know that there is something to love and relationships outside of abuse and neglect.

In short, getting too attached is one of the best gifts we could give these kids. Even if it hurts to say good-bye.

And if I might add one more thing . . .

If being a foster parent sounds like it’s just setting yourself up for hurt … I want to challenge you. These children did not choose to be foster children. Their lives are completely up in the air, and are dependent on total strangers’ decisions. When you guard your heart so carefully that there is no room for them in it … They do not disappear. When you dismiss their plight with a wave of your hand and a quick excuse, they are still without a home.
Foster families who are already stretched thin take in one more kid because no one else will. Social workers have the kids sleep on sofas in their offices until they can find a home, somewhere. Siblings are broken apart and only get to see each other every once in awhile.

So maybe ask yourself . . . What if I could? What if I could get attached, love a child, and say good-bye? What if I could give a kid love and stability because that’s what our home is made of? What if there is a child out there who is worth the risk of getting my heart hurt? I can promise you one thing … There is. There have been four for me.

Foster Momma Monday: Meet April!

received_10212480919072126_resizedMy name is April, my husband Daniel and I have been married for going on 10 years in April and we are the Smith family from Bremen, Georgia. We met in high school and and dated for 6 months and then Daniel was leaving for college soon so we parted ways but stayed in contact and hung out as friends for the next 8 years until we were both single, then we got back together and were married 13 months later. We had our first child, our daughter in 2009 and our son in 2012. Before having any biological children, we always knew that we we open for adoption and in 2015 we decided to pursue a private adoption. Long story short, the birth mother to the child decided to parent 30 weeks into her pregnancy. Our hearts were already committed and as hurt as we were she and I remained in contact where I have supported her and encouraged her along the way. We chose to foster because we have a heart for children – especially the ones who  need a safe and loving family. We have the resources, and our 2 biological children were on received_10212480918992124_resizedboard so we figured, “what’s holding us back?” So in 2016, we opened our home to foster care but as most people typically are in the beginning, we were very hesitant to dive in head first. We did respite a couple of times over the course of the 1st year and we were even called several times for placements and agreed but the placement would never pan out with the agency we were with then. In January of 2017 we decided to transfer to another agency and then in March of 2017 we received a 1 month old baby girl. Fast forward, we have had our current foster daughter for a little over a year and we are open to adopt  her if a TPR (termination of parental rights) happens.
What, to you, is the most difficult challenge you are faced with when fostering?
Dealing with multiple people in and out of our home is not always fun. DFCS doesn’t do anything fast, yet expect you to be Johnny on the spot with their requests.
 What’s the most rewarding part about this process to you?
The rewarding part is seeing how far this precious child has come from placement to now physically and emotionally is so worth the emotional roll coaster of fostering.
What’s something that you wish people understood about ‘being a foster family?’
I wish more people were supportive of foster families. Yes, we did choose to foster,  however, it isn’t easy. It seems that many are very judgmental and I feel that only other foster parents truly understand.

Foster Momma Monday: Meet Rebecca!



I am Rebecca, grew up as what they call an Army brat and landed in the sweet southern state of Louisiana, where both of my parents grew up. I am 35 years old and married to my amazing husband, Jonathan (who I have been married to since April of 2014) and mother to a very beautiful and talented teenager, Alayna, and our energetic, wild hearted foster daughter, age 6. We were recently a household of five but the Lord spoke and the storm came rolling in last week!  The women are now overtaking the household as our foster son, age two, left to fulfill the plan God set out for him.We have not adopted as of yet – but are open and waiting for the opportunity to eventually do so.


Why did you choose to foster? Are you an adoptive home or foster only?

This is a tricky question, sometimes I wonder if we even chose to do this or if we just became open and obedient to the plan that God was laying out for us all along! I have always loved children and thankfully the Lord sent me a ready-made Father in my husband. He took the role of step father beyond anything my daughter and I would have imagined for ourselves, but always hoped we would find.! We were married in 2014 and I guess as most couples do, we expected to conceive our first child within a few months but as time passed by, our hearts longed more and more for children to share together, and it just wasn’t happening, no matter how many tears were cried, or prayers we prayed!

We decided to embark on a spiritually journey after the first year had passed, a mission trip to Turrialba, Costa Rica. During that amazing week in Costa Rica, we visited an orphanage and were truly taken in by what we experienced. The children were beautiful with smiles that could literally warm the darkest of hearts, we stayed for hours, playing and laughing with them . No matter what they experienced before or after we arrived, those children were smiling because we were giving them love and affection!

It was after failed fertility procedures, early pregnancy losses, and that trip,  that we came to realize, God gave us a beautiful home and an abundant amount of love in our hearts to help his children. So in September of 2016 we accepted our first placement, a sibling set ages 10 months and 4 , and we have been loving on them ever since.


What, to you, is the most difficult challenge you are faced with when fostering?

I think as parents you want to always do what’s best for your children, and when you have children that really aren’t acclimated to a stable environment, behaviors can be extremely difficult. Every child is different, they need their own routine and their own type of attention and nurturing.  This can be a difficult part of this ministry, dividing your love, energy and protection to the right child at the right time, in the right way. The other difficult part of this journey, is trying to understand that nothing is definite. The court, the state, the worker, the biological family, the therapists, anything can happen at any given time. We have witnessed this heartbreak numerous times over the last seventeen months, but we will still be here for the next child, because our suffering is nothing compared to theirs. Last but not least, when a placement you love leaves, your heart will break into a tiny million pieces! Open and guard your hearts, this is a roller coaster ride of emotions!


What’s the most rewarding part about this process to you?

We have been so blessed to be loved by these beautiful children, watching them walk, talk, spell, play sports and to pray. To be able to love someone else’s child as your own is truly a miracle! The reward is knowing that the seed was planted, and they will grow into beautiful, strong and faithful children and that they have helped us grow, to better help the next children that come into our hearts.

I find that this journey has truly changed who we are as parents and as servants to Gods will. Not just us, but our entire extended family has been shaken. We have become stronger, more patient, understanding, open hearted and more willing to sacrifice for them to grow and feel protected. I guess at the end of the day, every good and every hard day was all part of the reward.



What’s something that you wish people understood about ‘being a foster family?’

That these are OUR children. No matter the amount of time we have them, we love them, protect them, teach them and sacrifice for them. When they go back to their families, we pray for them, miss them and ugly cry because we can no longer hold them!  And that although we may have lots of children, and some that don’t look like us, we need your kindness! It takes a village to raise these children, we need your support!! We thank God for our village daily!!!

Foster Care: It isn’t devastating, it’s just a tad annoying & inconvenient.

an-adventure-wrongly-considered-gilbert-k-chesterton-daily-quotes-sayings-picturesIt’s super important to me to give people a realistic look at what foster parenting is like from my perspective. I don’t want anyone getting into this with the idea that it will be easy or smooth. I don’t ever want to hear the phrase, “oh, but she just made it look so easy.” Doing the right thing isn’t always as rewarding as we wish it would be. But I’m starting to think maybe I’m preparing people for the wrong thing. As I talk with people about their concerns with foster care I mostly hear questions about the dramatic moments. People hesitate to jump in because they are focusing on the potential for extreme grief. They are worried a child would be with them for years without permanency, or would be taken quickly without much notice, or would come with such a sad history that it would be difficult for them to ever recover. These are all possible realities in the foster care world, but I want to be honest with you that dealing with those moments isn’t necessarily the hardest part of foster care. The devastating moments flare up and disappear, but the annoying parts of foster care are much more of a daily frustration and are a lot more likely to be the reason why I would ever quit doing this.


So before you make the decision to get into foster care, here’s what you need to know:

Visitation is ridiculous. Sigh… I don’t even know where to begin with visitation. The schedule changes depending on a parent’s plan or work schedule or therapy or whatever and it can be tough to develop consistency. When a parent doesn’t show up the child is brought back to your home which can make it really tough to make plans around this because you need to be home while visit takes place (or atleast rather close so you can get back home at the drop of a hat.) You feed your child good quality food all week with limited soda (or in my case none at all) and Mom brings McDonald’s with tons of sugary drinks and candy to visit. Yeah, not life or death.. just a personal preference and when you’re co-parenting with a stranger you are likely to run into differences of opinion on quite a lot. Parents don’t show up for a month, then reappear and everything starts back at square one. Visitation workers may tell you nothing about what happened at the visit (“confidentiality” they say with an air of superiority when you ask if the baby took a nap) or they may tell you way more than you need to know to the point that it causes you anxiety. For me, visits are THE hardest part of foster parenting.

There is no timeline. Nobody can tell you how a case is going to play out. It is highly dependent on a parent’s decision to participate in services, which is hard to anticipate. Second chances are sometimes offered, sometimes not… and sometimes even third, fourth, fifth chaces, too. You hit a deadline only to have it extended. Or somebody can’t make a court hearing so it all gets delayed 30 days. A parent is making good progress only to be arrested on something unrelated and it all gets delayed until the criminal charges are dealt with. A caseworker brings up the idea of adoption, but then a parent gets motivated and everything changes. None of these situations are devastating, but all of them get annoying as you realize you can’t make future plans when there’s no set timeline.

Communication is unreliable. Sometimes you get a great team that has quick and efficient communication (thankfully, we have that for the most part right now) and sometimes you go three months without hearing from a caseworker and by the time you do hear from somebody it’s to update you that your caseworker quit a month ago (which was my first experience in foster care.) Lawyers can be tough to get in touch with and may or may not care much about what’s happening for this child. Sometimes you need a simple answer to a question for paper you’re filling out and nobody will get back to you. There are services a child can’t receive without caseworker approval and if you can’t get in touch with your caseworker, that is really irritating.

Nothing happens in court. Oh, Court. You are an endless tease. It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been doing this, I always think something big is going to happen in court and it pretty much never does. Progress happens behind the scenes between the major players. Big things do happen occasionally, but not usually in the way I envision when I think about how things are going in the case.

You can’t find a babysitter. It can be tough to find someone to watch your kids who is willing to do the appropriate background checks. Your child may also have unique issues which can make it hard to find a qualified person to babysit. And on top of all that, you may now need babysitting more often as you’re scheduling team meetings, court, doctor appointments, and just needing some time to refresh. Lucky for us, this isn’t an issue. I have two reliable sitters and a set of parents that are willing to step in at any time when I just need a moment. This is a financial investment as well as a major investment of time. Devastating? No. Annoying? Yes.

There’s always an appointment. You’ll always have somewhere to be. Doctor appointment, dentist appointment, therapist appointment. A case worker is on their way to the house, DFCS is also coming to the house… it’s literally always something. Fostering is not for the private life – be ready to be an open book.

And expect to change a few appointments… the very minute that they were supposed to happen. Talk about being so frustrated you can’t even see straight. Rearrange your entire day, cancel several appointments, push meetings back on the calendar to make sure you’re both there because either a therapist or a case worker told you earlier that morning that she would be by for a visit at 2pm, sharp. “Please be on time. I have several other visits I have to make.” So you’re on time – and you barely make it home from a doctor’s appointment across town, but you hit the mark. Because she had asked us, urgently, to make it a priority. Two o’clock comes and goes, 2:30 passed, then 3. It’s finally 3:30pm when you receive a text message explaining that she would have to reschedule for the next day because something had come up, last minute. I guess all we had to do with our days, and our life, was wait around for someone to show up, who really wasn’t going to show up. Forget jobs, doctor’s appointments, or errands we had. It’s not that we weren’t understanding, nor patient people. We ARE – we all are, that’s why we are doing this to begin with.

You’re always being licensed. The licensing process can be a pain. You have to keep up with continuing education hours and the weight of the licensing process can seem to settle over you. I will actually wake up in the night wondering if we’re behind in our continuing education hours. Not everybody is that weird about it, but I never want to accidentally let our license lapse.



I don’t want this to just sound like whining. I realize how silly some of these things can be, but that’s exactly my point. I’m almost nervous to give this kind of a behind the scenes peek, because this stuff can be so irritating on a day-to-day basis I’m afraid it will scare people off. I think it’s easier for someone to say, “I couldn’t be a foster parent because of how heartbroken I would be to love and lose a foster child” than for them to say what may be the truth: “I don’t want to be a foster parent because it would be really inconvenient.” These daily irritations reveal our selfishness. They highlight the areas where we really hang on to our personal freedoms and autonomy. They show us where we want control and how angry we’ll get when that doesn’t happen even if the issues are minor. I see the character of foster parents revealed not in the major griefs and heartaches, but in the minor frustrations.

So think about these areas of irritation before you pursue foster care. Are you ready to handle them with grace and class? Are you willing to turn down the opportunity to help a child and a family in crisis because you don’t want to be inconvenienced? My hope is that when foster parents are aware of these issues prior to taking a placement, they won’t be so surprised or discouraged when frustrations arise.



But let’s not miss this, okay? IS IT WORTH ALL OF THE FUSS?

To read that, one has to ask, “Is this really worth it? Do I really want to put myself or my heart out there like that, just to be knocked back and forth like a tetherball?”

The answer is yes! Yes, it is worth it. The reason? Children are worth it. In the crossfire of behaviors brought on by past trauma, cold and disconnected judges, MIA case workers, a broken foster care system, and daily exhaustion that we feel from this journey, there are innocent children who’ve done nothing to deserve what’s happened to them. They were unwillingly dragged into the chaos and mess of this, caught in a hurricane of sorts. At last count, there are a lot of them. Over 100,000 currently in the United States waiting to be cared for!

We could add up all of the reasons why a person shouldn’t be a foster parent. But we could do that with just about anything on earth. It’s an opportunity to be light in someone’s darkness. For many children who come into care, their world is filled with darkness. From abuse, to drugs, to violence, to witnessing crime, it’s dark. You have the opportunity to shine light by providing love, care, positive influence, a healthy example, and more!

To love another human being with no strings attached is what we were created to do, as human beings. We’ve been divinely created with the capacity to do so. And what an amazing gift that is!


Foster Momma Monday: Meet Sandra!

28236669_1736605566362511_1029896094_nI’m Sandra, and I am from both Buchanan, Georgia as well as Jacksonville, Florida. My husband, William is from Lake Butler, Florida. April of this year will mark 10 beautiful years with him. We moved to our little slice of heaven about 6 years ago and built our home together with the help of some very special people. Right now it is just us and our two fur babies, Sarge and Dobby. It’s so hard to put into only a few words how we came to make what we felt was such a huge and very personal decision.. We found out early on that due to my PCOS symptoms that it would be hard for us to have children of our own. It was not and easy decision to come to (to 28308392_1736605623029172_1611450991_nfoster-to-adopt.) We didn’t want to go into it with our heart still broken from years of struggling with infertility and like any sane person we cringed at the possibility that our hearts could and possibly would be broken one or many times before we’d have an opportunity to adopt, which is our goal, but God has been busy at work and soon our wish to hear little feet running threw the house and hopes of being a part of helping a child grow in anyway even if only for a season outweighed all of our fears. We’ve had 9 children come through our home both for respite (a placement that is usually between a few days to a month for a particular reason or purpose) and fostering but we haven’t had the opportunity to adopt any of our “foster loves” yet. 

Q: What, to you, is the most difficult challenge you are faced with when fostering?
It’s a bit of a bitter sweet experience, fostering, because knowing the only reason they’re in the system (and in our home) to begin with is because at some point they’ve either been victim to or witness to some sort of trauma and carrying the knowledge that all they currently have of everything they’ve ever known before you are the hand full of things they’ve got with them and their memories (good and bad.) Sometimes these children are so resilient and sometimes helping them through those traumas will take everything you have but through it all saying goodbye is always the hardest part for us. 
Q: What’s the most rewarding part about this process to you?
There’s moments when you will be so overwhelmed with joy just watching them playing or watching their eyes spark with pride when they know they’ve done good or just learned something new, or hearing their laughter knowing we and our home were able to be a part of that is beyond rewarding. 
Q:What’s something that you wish people understood about ‘being a foster family?’
We wish people understood that we can’t always answer their questions about our little family and we’re more respectful about accepting that we can’t delve deeper into why they’re no longer with us or why they were with us to begin with. I think sometimes it’s hard for some of even the most well meaning people to not feel offended because they think you don’t trust them enough to let them in, when in reality you are only trying to respect the privacy of others who have trusted you with personal information. Also we’re not in it for money or to steal people’s children from them at a time when they truly just need help (and neither is DFCS.) We’re here to help and while they’re ours for only a season, our hearts will love every child God blesses our home with and we will do everything we can to advocate what our hearts feel is best for them even when it means heart break for the two of us. There may come a time when we could be someone’s permanent home and we will welcome that day with open arms but until then while unconventional we feel God has answered our prayers for children and blessed us with the means and the heart to have and help more children than we’ve ever could have dreamed. 
We have such a need for homes and I wish people weren’t so afraid of the screening process. While it is thorough to say the least DFCS is very respectful and not judgmental or pushy and you don’t have to be just a partnership or foster home if that’s not what you feel is right for you and even if opening your home is something that you feel isn’t right for you there are still so many ways to be involved in helping. There’s volunteering for CASA or Food drives, donating shoes or clothes or hygiene products. Lord knows these kids grow fast! This roller coaster is not for everyone and there is absolutely no shame in that but for those that it is the ride is rewarding and beautiful beyond measure.

Foster Momma Monday: Meet Kayla!

img_3615I’m Kayla, my husband (Michael) and I have been married for 5 years (together for 10 years!) We live in Jefferson, Georgia! We love traveling when we can and in October of last year were able to take a trip to Disney with all our kids! We have 1 adopted daughter (Izzie, 4 years) and 3 fosters (1, 7, and 15 years!) We have been fostering for over 4 years! Mike and I had not parented before and after being married only a couple months I really felt it on my heart for us to foster. When I brought it up to Mike he asked, ‘foster what a dog?’ I laughed and said, ‘no, I am thinking more like children.’ He was suprised but said to do my “homework” and come back! Within a couple days, I had done all the research and presented it to him. He was suprised but knew how much it meant to me and we got all of our training done in August (took about 3-4 months) and in October we had our first placements! We are a foster home but open to adoption, as well! We have adopted our 4 year old whom we have had since she came home from the hospital at almost a month old are currently in the process of adopting our 1 year old (Ollie) that we have had since she was 2 days old!


Q: What, to you, is the most difficult challenge you are faced with when fostering?

There are a few difficult things with fostering and one of them is the unknown. There are SOO many unknowns in foster care. (When asked by the child when they are going home you most likely won’t know, you don’t know what they endured prior to coming to your home, etc. You can think you are so prepared for when you get the call for a new child but you will not know what to expect until you see them at your door. Each child is different and that is ok! DFCS is also very challenging, as some case workers do not keep us informed. Thankfully our agency is there for us to keep us informed and support us in our fostering journey.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part about this process to you?

The most rewarding part of fostering is knowing that we have helped a child when they needed it. So many children have come with us with just the clothes on their backs and that is it. We have gotten them what they needed and also things they actually get to pick out that they want. When we see the smiles on their faces it is just huge! Showing a child what a real family is and showing them what love is and seeing them understand it is very rewarding for us.

Q:What’s something that you wish people understood about ‘being a foster family?’

I wish more people would consider fostering. There is a HUGE need in our communities for this. Our thoughts were we have the space and the love to give and want to help the children that come to our home. We get provided so much support from our agency and also our friends and family which is good! And when we need a date night we have our approved sitters. If we want to take a vacation with just mike and I we secure respite to care for the kids while we are gone. I think some people think , ‘ oh I couldn ‘ t do “that” and my response to them is YES YOU CAN! These kids did not ask to come in to care or be taken from their families. But they were and they need our help. Is it difficult to foster? A t times but is it difficult for the people asking it to parent their children some days? At times yes! At the end of the day they are still children and when they need help it needs to be freely given.