What is respite foster care?
Hey friends! I’m alive! Haha, barely. This past month has been super crazy and very full with the start of summer break for my three kids, working, running a household and getting lots of experience with taking care of foster children. Since our family received certification, we decided to start off with respite foster care. Respite foster care is basically providing relief to other foster families who need a temporary break for the weekend or longer periods of time for vacation, etc.
Currently, we are partnered with a couple of families for respite foster care. We have been caring for one of our foster kids and usually we take him for the day or afternoon. Recently, we had him spend the night with us and that was a unique and fun experience.
Do you remember how excited you were when you got to spend the night at a friend’s house but then had a hard time falling asleep or sleeping in? L had a really hard time falling asleep from the combination of excitement and being a little afraid of being in a new room at night. Jimmy and I took turns reading books, sitting with him and even singing songs to him. He specifically requested Michael Jackson! That boy has good taste! However, I really needed to brush up on my lyrics after trying to sing, “Beat it.” He finally fell asleep at midnight and thankfully slept through the night peacefully.
We woke up the next morning and Jimmy made his spectacular weekend breakfast. It was a sweet time and a successful first sleepover. L taught me to add yogurt on top of my pancakes. I’m hooked!
This past week, we finished a longer period of respite care for a pair of siblings. It was for 10 days and it was for a 7 yr old girl and his 10 month old infant brother. I specifically told our agency we didn’t want infants but when they asked us to care for them, I had a hard time saying no. I blame infant amnesia! I forgot how hard it was to take care of an infant and how you have to keep an eye on them 24-7.
Oh but he was the sweetest baby I’d ever met!
One of the best parts of our 10 days was watching our kids welcome these two kids into our home with so much love and adoration. I will say it was a challenge for our little Emmy at times because she’s used to being the youngest but it’s going to be so good for her. I’m learning that fostering is truly a gift to our kids. Coming from an immigrant family, I’m so grateful to have experienced the struggles that come along with that. We didn’t always have everything we wanted but we had what we needed growing up because my parents sacrificed a ton and worked really really hard.
My kids are growing up with a lot more that we did and Jimmy and I are trying extra hard not to spoil our kids or raise them to feel entitled. Fostering is opening our kids’ eyes and stretching their world view. They see that the reality of being in a healthy family and seeing a mom and dad love each other is in itself a precious gift. They are learning what it looks like to have compassion for kids who are neglected, abused or abandoned. It’s easy to yell at our kids and tell them they are spoiled when they misbehave or act like brats but if that’s all they’ve known, it’s our responsibility as parents to educate and expose our kids outside their own bubbles.
When people ask how I’m able to do all that I do, I basically say I don’t and I can’t! My house was crazy and there were things that just weren’t a priority. Also, my community stepped up and for that, I’m eternally grateful. My mom came over and helped one evening with all the laundry and dishes. My friends, neighbors and family helped with meals, play dates and so much more. During the weekend, I actually had Emmy’s 5th birthday party on one day and I threw my mom a surprise 60th bday party at my house the next night. I had already planned these events before we committed to the respite care so I kept them on the calendar. These events couldn’t have happened without my friends graciously serving alongside me.
That same morning of the party, the baby got really sick and I ended up taking him to urgent care. I felt terrible because I’m pretty sure he got it from day care. I’m sharing these things because it gave me so much respect for full time foster parents who do this day in and day out. Many foster families have young kids of their own and they are opening up their homes to these kids. It’s truly humbling and such a beautiful image of being the hands and feet of Jesus.
One of the foster families that we’re partnered with have two biological kids of their own and one of them is a toddler. I can not imagine taking care of a toddler and an infant at the same time. She’s also a full time teacher so you can only imagine how crazy it’s going to be for her family once school starts. If you know of someone who is fostering full time, I encourage you to go and love on that family and serve them with a meal or giving them some relief. What they are doing is amazing work and they need all the encouragement they can receive.
My oldest daughter basically saved my life those 10 days. She fed the baby every morning and packed his bottles to go and was so hands 0n with everything. Jules cared for 7 yr old M and played with her the entire time she was with us. M felt most safe and secure with Jules. Watching her love on the kids really made my heart swell.
I love that we get to become an extension of these kids’ families and that we can care for them when we can. There are definitely challenges that come with fostering but the impact that you can make on a child’s life is worth it all. Jimmy and I had a long talk the other day and we really felt like respite care is what our family can do at this moment and do it well.
I was so encouraged because in the last couple of weeks, 4 different people have shared with me that they want to go into fostering too. This is why we share our journey so that we can mobilize other families to join in this ministry if they feel the Lord prodding them to do so. If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would love to connect with you regarding fostering.
If you want to read how we started our journey into fostering, you can read our first blog post here. There’s also part 2 and when we prepared our guest room for our foster children. Our family even made it into a promotional video to help spread awareness for the need for foster families.
As always, thanks for reading and being a part of this crazy journey with us. On another note, if you want to see some organizational tips, I’m currently sharing them daily over on my Instagram stories and have them saved on the highlights tab.
Let all that you do be done in Love. 1 Corinthians 16:14