Posted by Nicci | Fostering Love

Befriending Foster Parents

befriend

When Rent-a-Dad and I created our first Eco Map (for more information check out our post Foster Parent Eco Map) we were a little unsure of how it should look and more importantly once it was created we found out we weren’t sure how our extended family members would take our journey into the foster care system. By the time we created our second Eco Map we knew how supportive our family and friends would be and we have a much better sense of who would be in our extended layer of resources. So when we received our approval letter and first placement we knew who would befriend us.

I recently realized that through the process of becoming foster parents we had an open dialogue with our friends and family on what the process meant to us and what we thought would happen once we received our first placement BUT not once did we ever really discuss with our friends the type of help we might need from them. Sure all of our close friends and family let us know they would be supportive but… how supportive? What kind of support? These were questions we never really asked and should have.

Looking back I feel a little naive about the whole process. Maybe we just had faith that help would be there but perhaps we just didn’t know how to ask those questions. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind as needs arise (for foster parents) and ways that you can befriend foster parents who have received new placements or perhaps are new friends who you have just found out are foster parents:

Ideas for Foster Parents

  • If you have not created an Eco Map in your training then sit down and create one. This will get you thinking about who will be your support network.
  • Keep an open dialogue with those you are close to. You don’t have to talk every day on the phone. Rent-a-Dad and I stay connected with our friends through texts, emails, Facebook and other social interactions such as dinner or lunch dates and church.
  • Keep contact with local foster groups so you can trade items (such as clothing) and expand your list of resources in case you need something from advice to respite care.
  • Once you have an idea of the age group (and sex) of the children you want to foster it is important to keep a few items in your home (or garage) for when you receive a placement such as diapers, clothes and toys. If you have a wide range of ages you will accept then make sure to just have some diapers/a container of diaper wipes/baby soap on hand (if you intend to foster babies) and keep a list of friends who said they will help with hand-me-downs and what sizes they might have.
  • While you can not release personal information on social media about your placements you can announce you have a placement and provide a list of things you are looking for.

 

Ideas for Friends of Foster Parents

  • Let your friends pursuing foster care know how involved you want to be in their journey from providing babysitting to just being that friend at the other end of the phone who can listen.
  • Whether your friends who are fostering have just received a new placement or have had a placement for a while, ask if a pre-made meal would be nice. Several of our friends have made this kind gesture and it is always appreciated! Not having to think about what to make for dinner is nice especially during the first week of a placement where all your time and energy are being devoted to getting caring for the new placement and the paperwork that follows.
  • If you feel you need to do more for your foster friends you can throw a small social gathering to either celebrate a new placement (ask friends to bring items you know they need) – or – to just make sure your friends have an outlet to act as adults while the kids are being entertained in another area of the house. Another idea is inviting them over for (or out to) dinner and making sure they have an approved baby sitter. I have really enjoyed the dinners my friends have thrown for us or invited us out to! I have especially enjoyed the times when they provided the babysitter!!!
  • Your foster friends may not need your help this moment but you can still let them know you care and are there for them. A simple note is just fine. I have had friends talk about making coupon books that include “one free night of babysitting” or “good for a girl’s night out” or similar thoughtful interactions.

Most importantly… we all need to be reminded at times that we matter. Sometimes it can feel like our foster parent friends are too busy for us but sometimes it is just that they are so bogged down and don’t even know how bad it is. Reminding them you care and miss their friendship may be the opening to a long needed conversation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *