Preparing Biological Children for Foster Care Life

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Our children are our world. And it is our job to protect them & make certain they feel both safe and unconditionally loved. So naturally, one of our greatest concerns in fostering as a family is how it might affect them. We are not naive to the fact that we have essentially signed our children up to foster as well. Because this is a family affair, we walk this “narrow” journey TOGETHER. It will change ALL of our lives. And at age 1.5 and 3.5 they did not have much ‘voice’ in our decision making process.

It is a lot to wrap your mind around at such a young age. Heck it is a lot for my own 30 year old mind! But we did our best to prepare them as much as we could, at age appropriate levels. I wanted to share some of the ways we approached this, in case others are considering fostering while young biological children are in the home.

  1. PRAYER. Lots of it. We pray for our biological children & trust God to care for them.We prayed like crazy to make sure this was indeed God’s plan for our family. And God confirmed that OVER and OVER (read about that here: The Crazy Story of How God Called Us to Fostering: Risk or Paralysis ?). If God wants us to do it, well, He will prepare and protect not just us, but our children as well. So we continually return to this promise when the fears creep in about how it will affect them. God will protect them. And He will work it all for their good. Romans 8:28- “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” So bottom line: pray to ensure this is God’s plan for your family, and if it is His will, trust He will protect and provide.Romans 8_28- “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
  2. We talked about it with our children from the get-go. We told them every week (every Thurs during our training session) that they would have a babysitter “while Mommy and Daddy go to school to learn how to take care of kids whose Mommy and Daddy are sick or need some help for a while.” I reinforced why we were gone to my 3.5 year old either that same night while kissing him goodnight, or the next morning after hearing all about the fun he had with the sitter.  He understood that it was something his Daddy and I did together, at church (it was held at our home church), because “that is what Jesus would want us to do. Jesus wants every kid to feel loved and safe.” So bottom line: talk to your kids. They understand more than you think.Foster Love. Foster Hope. Foster Care.
  3. We included Eli (3.5 yrs) in completing the paperwork and during the home study process. He signed his name on paperwork & our caseworker “interviewed” him as well. {hilarious memory: he had been constipated for days and in the middle of the “interview” he looked at me with a look that didn’t require any words, I scooped him up, and he said, “Mommy, you better RUN!” We laughed about it for days and our social worker said she is glad we are “experienced” parents ha.} So bottom line: include your kids in the process, making them feel a part of the team… and don’t be mortified if nature calls during the interview.Foster Care is TEAMWORK
  4. We pray together for kids who don’t have a Mommy or Daddy to care for them. Or a pantry full of snacks, and meals on the table. Or a cozy bed to sleep in at night. We are intentionally REAL with our kids. They know that there are kids out there who don’t have all they have. And they are learning that what God has given us, is meant to be shared. So bottom line: don’t shy away from the real conversations surrounding fostering (at age appropriate levels).What God has given us, is meant to be shared with others.
  5. We read lots of books. I have intentionally chosen books at the library that could spark conversations about fostering. Books about new babies joining families, books about kindness and sharing, and books specific to fostering. One of our favorites is “Murphy’s Three Homes”– about a Tibetan Terrier puppy who feels like a ‘bad luck dog’ that nobody wants, but eventually is placed in a caring foster dog home where he learns he is not a ‘bad luck dog’ after all & goes back to being a playful puppy. Another book that has helped my 3.5 year old a lot is “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?”. We talk about how he could fill a child’s bucket and how that in turn fills his own bucket because helping others makes us happy too. And then to practically apply this book, his sister and him each have a kindness jar they work to fill with Pom Pom balls by getting “caught being good.” This little positive parenting hack (as seen on Pinterest) is teaching them that filling someone else’s ‘bucket’ fills their own as well. So bottom line: don’t underestimate the power of story time with your kiddos!  IMG_3937 (1)
  6. Reach Out. I have been taking my kids to deliver desserts to the homeless soup kitchen this year. They help me bake and always want to eat all the desserts we are supposed to deliver! I remind them that some people don’t have enough to eat and if we eat the desserts, their bellies will be left growling…but if we share the desserts, their bellies & hearts will be full. We have also handed bread, etc., to homeless people while driving downtown & asked their names to pray for them. Eli still prays for “Cherry”, a homeless woman we met this winter named Sherry. I think SEEING this very real, tangible need helps them to understand that everyone is not as fortunate as us, and that we have a lot to share. I want them to have a heart for others, because I have learned (in my own quest) that living for self leads to pain and emptiness, whereas living for others leads to joy and fulfillment. So bottom line: SHOW your kids why there is a need to be generous in this world. And why kids and families need our help!_Only a life lived for others is worth living._--Albert Einstein

These are just a handful of ways we have attempted to prepare our young children. I would love to hear if anyone else has any ideas too (comment below!).

And let’s be real…I still have moments of fear…are we making the right decision?! But deep down I know those thoughts are not from God & I try to dismiss the fears and hold tight to the promise that He will protect and provide. I trust that He has a plan & that the good will far outweigh the challenges (He sees the whole picture). I am excited to see what is in store… time will tell!

Please pray for us as we proceed towards final approval & receiving our first placement. I am not sure when that will be (and it is killing me), but I know God has worked out all the who/when/where/why details. It is teaching me to live each day, because we never know what tomorrow might bring. Today that meant taking my kids to a splash pad, riding scooters & bikes, picnicking by the River watching the boats go by, and forts in the living room ♥

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