Each time I take part in a discussion with other foster/adoptive parents, one common theme emerges. Loneliness. A common feeling that they’re on this journey by themselves. That’s why we need those not on the journey need to roll up their sleeves.
We identify with those families. For years, we drifted in the seas of isolation. Keep problems to yourself because its a sign your faith isn’t strong. Don’t reach out because help means failing. Thankfully, we changed seas. While asking for support even today is hard, we know how important it is to fulfill the calling for these kids.
Not everyone is called to foster or adopt. But everyone can do something. And we need you.
Honest moment: we’re in a super tough season of this journey. The daily support we’re receiving from our church, our friends and my office are enabling us to keep moving forward.
Not everyone supports foster/adoptive parents the same way. I believe there are four types of supporters that come alongside those fostering and adopting. All are needed equally.
Grace givers stand on the periphery and provide circumstantial help. Often, you don’t know these people well. But don’t underestimate the power of their simple contributions when you’re in the trenches.
This is the neighbor that overlooks your child’s outburst in the front yard. Or, the medical receptionist that waits patiently for you to look up basic information on your child- like a birthday. It could be boss that lets you make a three hour call on company time. Or the random stranger that pays for your dinner when they see dining out wasn’t your best choice this evening.
Trail walkers demonstrate consistent, genuine care for those on the journey. They call or text to check up on a foster parent. They care about you, not the juicy details of court today. They listen without judgement. They find solutions only when ask. They’re quick to pray, slow to give advice.
Sometimes these are the folks who can’t physically get involved, but they will give you 100% of themselves mentally. I have a trail walker half a country away that checks in every single day and has for years. This person both calls me out on my junk and encourages me to see our story from a heavenly perspective- even on the really, really tough days.
This special class of people roll their sleeves up and commit. They give time, resources and/or talents to not only walk alongside a family, but also make a tangible difference. We are blessed with so many sleeve rollers.
You’ll see these people serving by bringing a meal or providing child care for date night. They’re the ones that help with home repairs or taxi children to far-flung appointments. Sleeve rollers ask, “what can I do” and make things happen.
The fewest, rarest of all. These are the ones that see the ugly side of trauma, the dark hard moments and said, “I’m not going anywhere.” They lock arms at your hardest moments and sometimes carry you through the darkest sections of the journey. They point your mind toward heaven, while they use their hands and feet to take care of practical things in the moment. They’re not afraid of running with you in the muck.
Muck runners will run to your home to help you during a four hour trauma reaction. They’ll answer the phone at 3 a.m. when you have a mental health emergency. They’ll go with you to doctor’s meetings or be by your side when the child you’ve raised gets into the social workers car the final time. They’ll go all-in as much as any human can do without being a foster or adoptive parent themselves.
None of these work however, without living in community with friends, church even workplaces that support them. We’re very, very blessed to have people from all parts of our lives reaching out a hand of support as we work to rebuild lives sullied by no fault of their own.
Get off the sideline and into the game. Families out there need someone like you on their side.