I can’t think of a better scripture to describe foster care than Psalms 68:6, “God places the lonely into families.”
It’s as if God Himself knocks on my front door and lovingly says, “Here,…I’m entrusting one of my precious little ones into your care.”
Sure, there happens to be a caseworker standing there instead of God, but that doesn’t change the fact that God is present, working all things for good, through the calling of being a foster parent.
I would not have been able to open my front door to welcome these children in if it wasn’t for the training and support that my husband and I received in our licensing through Hope & Home.
No agency can totally prepare you for all of the unknowns that come with fostering children from tough backgrounds, but Hope & Home comes awful close.
My Respite Foster Care Story
These days, we offer respite foster care for Hope & Home Foster families. As a foster parent who took regular placements for three years, I know the importance of being in this role.
Respite foster care provides much-needed time to breathe for both foster parents and foster children. As respite providers, we are here to come alongside foster families and minister to them by providing a break from their daily lives; similar to a weekend getaway to refresh and regroup.
When we say “yes” to provide respite for a child, we like to think of our home as a “stay-at-grandma-and-grandpa’s-house” for them. We provide a place of calm away from their daily routines and challenges.
Much like when we return our own grandchildren to their parents, after a little spoiling and special attention, so it is with these children in foster care. We want them to want to come back, knowing that our home was a place where they felt loved on.
We love working with Hope & Home. As their name infers, they give hope to children by placing them into safe homes – foster homes.
For every child that God allows to enter our front door, there is the hope that they will get a glimpse of what a healthy home looks like. Not a perfect home, but one where there is no substance, domestic or sexual abuse being endured; a home where neglect is absent and time spent together is a staple.
Making Them Feel Special
Each of God’s placements get to know what it’s like to wake up on a Saturday morning to Mr. Jamie’s homemade waffles. Along with banana slices, chocolate chips and warmed up maple syrup, each child gets to experience waffles being made just because they are a guest in our home.
They not only get to taste the goodness of each bite, but they also see a dad taking the time to make waffles just for them.
One of God’s placements was a nine-month-old baby girl. We quickly fell in love with her beautiful piercing eyes. It was only after our time with her that we learned that she had had a heart attack at three months of age.
She had survived the many drugs that were in her system at birth, and after several months in the hospital, she was placed into a Hope & Home foster family. Again, I found it an honor, a holy honor to be able to take her for a weekend, and love on this baby who had fought and won against such terrible odds.
Another one of God’s little three-year-old respite placements kept calling us mommy and daddy the whole weekend that he was with us. Even though we repeatedly told him our names were Mr. Jamie and Ms. Re’Nee, he continued to call us mommy and daddy.
After a few hours we gave up, and let him call us what he needed to call us, mommy and daddy. Sadly, he had been in so many foster homes, that mommy and daddy were just names given to the man and woman within whose home he was staying.
As heartbreaking as that was to us, we considered it an honor to be his mommy and daddy, even if it was just for two days of his precious little life.
Teenagers in foster care can be the hardest of all to reach, but there’s no greater privilege than when they open up and allow you into their messy world. As foster parents we can’t fix all of the issues that they have, but we can listen to their hearts, and with God’s help, try to minister love to them.
They are scared for their futures and realize that they have no control of where they may end up. They’re old enough to know that their parents may or may not get their act together. That is so hard for any child to have to face.
More Than Just A Respite Placement
When God places a child in our home, for however long that it may be, it’s not just a placement, it’s a soul. An eternal soul that we have the opportunity, through foster care, to help in what might possibly be their greatest time of need.
Whether it’s an infant, a toddler or teenager, their world has been turned upside down and our home can be a place to help turn it right side up.
Most of us can remember a place, a person or a family from our childhood that helped influence us to see the world in a different way than we had before. Being exposed to a way of life that is different than our own can give us the chance to dream of something more than we had previously experienced.
That is what foster care can be to each and every child that God places with us for such a time as this.
Jesus once told his disciples to let the little children come to Him. When they came, He blessed them, not with material things or with riches, but with His time, kindness and words.
In that short amount of time with Jesus, those children experienced what we all desire to experience – “love and acceptance”. The children didn’t stay with Jesus long, but before being returned to their parents, they unknowingly had a divine encounter with God.
That is what respite care can be for children in foster care as they unknowingly experience the love of the Father through us.
Being Called To Respite Foster Care
Is it easy? No! Anytime God calls us to serve others more than we serve ourselves, it means giving up our own comfort and freedoms for a greater purpose. Is it worth it? Yes! For we have discovered that the hardest things in life can also provide the greatest of rewards.
Thankfully, we have had the support of Hope & Home during the hard times to be able to make it to the point of experiencing the rewarding times. If it takes a village, then Hope & Home is definitely our village.
So many times I had seen a hurting world and wondered how I could share God’s love with them. They were always “out there” and I didn’t know how to reach them. Then there was a knock on my front door, and because I had become a licensed foster parent through Hope & Home, God was now bringing the hurting “in here”, as I opened up my home and my heart to one precious child at a time.