Yesterday I received a text from my dear friend Lisa (not her real name) whom I’ve known for more than a decade. The text simply read: We are official!
I knew what it meant. It meant Lisa’s life is about to change dramatically. I knew it meant her kids are going to learn lessons in compassion, selflessness, kindness and grace that will serve them well throughout the rest of their lives. It meant her marriage will be impacted in life-long ways. It meant her family’s license to provide care to children in foster care was official. It meant things are fixin’ to get real, as we say in the South.
Lisa and I have discussed fostering for the past three years, since my husband and I received our license to foster and my friend disclosed her desire to do the same. I can’t help but wonder if I’ve properly prepared her for the heartache. For the patience it requires. For the difficulty in saying goodbye to children you love deeply. I know she is well aware of the many benefits to fostering: the privilege of loving children and the satisfaction felt by stepping up to fill a temporary, yet much-needed, gap in a child’s care.
Since the very first evening my husband and I discussed becoming foster parents, I’ve had the desire to learn more, understand better, increase compassion, help help help these precious kids. And since I began learning about the tragic plight of so many children, I’ve had the strong desire to spread the word. If more people know about the need for more foster homes, then more people will actually become licensed to foster. That’s my hope. My hope is that enough new families will become licensed to foster so that every child will have a place to call home. So that current foster families won’t have to keep saying “yes, yes, yes” and then face burnout. So that the Department of Social Services will have multiple households to consider as they seek the ‘perfect fit’ when looking to place each child – keeping siblings together, keeping all kids close to home, and allowing each teen to be placed in a family rather than group care. That’s why I won’t stop talking about fostering.
Many foster parents have friends who say they want to foster one day. I’ve learned to tell the difference between people who sincerely mean it, and those who don’t. Lisa meant it, and three years later received her license. For everything there is a season. On any given day, there are foster parents who make the difficult decision to close their homes, there are those who say they will get their license one day, those who find the courage to make the call and start the licensing process, and there are those who send a text saying its official.
May is Foster Care Awareness Month.
No matter what day it is, there are children who need foster homes. If you’ve considered becoming licensed for foster care, now might be the time. Build that bigger table. Make the call. Learn more. (And if you live in Greenville, Richland or Charleston counties, register for an upcoming virtual event here.) Perhaps you can’t foster right now, but there are plenty of other ways to help your community’s most vulnerable families. These precious children need us.
Today, Lisa sits waiting for the phone to ring for her first placement. Will you join her?