Last week we got our first asked foster care placement: a three-month-old baby girl! She’s absolutely a delight and thinks we’re hilarious. I don’t know yet how long will have her, but I’ll share updates on the weekly vlog, when I can!
A lot of you have asked how you can help, so here it is: how you can help me (baby registry!) and help other foster youth and parents.
I created this video ahead of time and thanks to Joeli, it's being posted within a few days of our first placement!
In the past 6 months, I have been absolutely overwhelmed by all of the sweet and loving responses we've received to our announcement that we're becoming foster parents!
The comment I hear most often is: “You guys are wonderful people to do that.”
I so so appreciate this sentiment, but I want to be clear that YOU can do something to help foster children too. Whether it's something you do in your own community, or it's supporting Jay and I, there's a million different options, so today I want to share those options with you! They go from personal, to global – I'd encourage you to find the option that works best for your life right now and do it! And when you do, comment below and encourage others to find something on this list and help others!
Before you decide how to help, the most helpful thing you can do for all of us is to decide how you can best help, in your current situation – is it giving of your money by buying a gift or donating to a foster care closet? Giving of your time by running errands or bringing food? Giving of other resources you have (like your experience by coming to teach me how to entertain my kids)? Decide how you WANT to help, and then offer it specifically. It's far more helpful for you to say to any new mom: “I'd love to come this Thursday after at 2p, and help around the house or run errands for you – would that help?” Or, “I can bring dinner over on Friday – would you prefer pizza or chinese?” Rather than, “lemme know if I can help”.
Here's some specific ideas of what you can do to help.
Help foster parents in the same way you'd help any new parents: Gifts, meals, babysitting, encouraging texts.
You can do this for ANY foster parent in your community, and I'll share more about that in a minute, but let's start with the personal – you can help make our own parenting journey a bit easier 🙂
- I was pretty nervous to even talk about this, but my Starship Captains encouraged me to 🙂 They insisted they wanted to know what we needed, so!
I've created an Amazon Baby registry. Over the last few months, I've been adding stuff to it, that I want to remember to get, as ya'll have been recommending stuff. Everything from formula to baby strollers. I feel kinda weird about this, but my friends have reminded me that every other mother creates a registry and invites people to a baby shower to buy from the registry.The Amazon registry is great, because I'm able to easily update it as soon as we know the age and needs of the kids we're getting (by the time you watch this video, it will have been updated to what we need, RIGHT NOW), you're able to see what's been bought and what hasn't (if it says 1/1 purchased, that means someone else got it) and Amazon will ship it right to my house, without you having to futz with shipping.
Here's the direct link, so if you'd like to help us welcome our new members to the family, feel free to send a gift from it.Since foster placements can last anywhere from a few months to 2 years and turn into adoptions, be assured that any personal item you get the kids (like toys, toothbrushes, etc) will stay with them if they are reunited with their birth family and any big standard items (like sheets or strollers) will stay with us for the next placement. And of course diapers and wipes will get used right up 🙂 If Amazon isn't your thing, a gift certificate to Target or Old Navy is sure to be used as the kids don't have any clothes (and because we didn't know the ages we'd be getting, we couldn't buy them ahead of time).
Anything extra we have will be donated the local foster care closet that is helping us, SMILE Tri Cities.
- You can also help us like you'd help any friends or family members who had a baby, by making our lives easier – feel free to text me to bring over dinner, coffee, or chocolate. We're vegetarians, but it's super easy to feed us – there are good frozen or hot dinner options at Earth Fare, we eat at Mexican and Chinese restaurants, or just bring us a veggie pizza from Scratch. Or seriously, just bring me a pound of coffee and you'll be my best friend forever. Text Jay before you're going to bring something, so I make sure to have a bra on.
- If you'd like to help with babysitting, we would super-love that, but there are some restrictions about who we can let babysit. You will need to be checked out by the state before you can keep our foster kids, but it's not a long process and it would be a REALLY AMAZING way for you to help us out. I'll have information for you about how to do this, so please lemme know if you're willing to babysit for an hour or two.
If you want to help but aren't approved (yet), feel free to help with other tasks related to running the house, like washing dishes or picking up what we need from the pharmacy or vacuuming. I'm pretty sure I'm buried under a pile of laundry, so I won't be offended if you offer to help.
- Along the line of babysitting, let's be honest: I have no idea how to entertain kiddos the age of my new kids. If you have kids around the same age, PLEASE send me your ideas, for books, activities, whatever. I am starting at scratch with no idea of what these kids are interested in (or familiar with), so any physical activity that doesn't require some new purchase is going to be really helpful (leave them in the comments below). And if you leave nearby, PLEASE text me to schedule a playdate. Please.
(Note: I'm staying mostly off FB Messenger, so send a text to my phone or Jay's, if you don't have our number, leave a comment here with your ideas 🙂 )
- You can help my business. My business pays 100% of our bills and I’m taking a bit of parental leave from the public-facing side of my business (I’ll be back in the Starship after just a few weeks, but will take a longer break from marketing and launching). I have systems set up, so we’re not worried about this AT ALL. But if you like my work and you’ve benefited from it – share it!
Share the podcast: Explore Your Enthusiasm
Share my book: Map Your Business is available on Amazon.
Better yet – leave a review of the podcast, leave a review on Amazon of my book (if you have it)
How you can help other foster parents
All of the above are ways you can help ME, but MOST of you aren't near enough to come over and stay with my kid for a few hours, but guess what? There are foster parents near YOU who need the exact same support. Here are some ways to help them:
- Help individual foster families. You can also ask at your church or community groups if there are foster families in your community. If so, do for them what you'd do for any new mom: Bring meals, offer to babysit, schedule play dates. Offer to bring NEW age appropriate clothes, underwear, or toys.
- Search for a local foster care closet to donate to or volunteer at. You can search “foster care closet YOUR TOWN” to find the ones near you. The ones near me are:
Isaiah 117 House, which provides a temporary place for kids to go until a foster placement is found https://www.facebook.com/Isaiah117House/
And Smile Tri-Cities Closet: https://www.facebook.com/smiletricities/
- Donate to national groups that provide for foster children such as Together We Rise at Togetherwerise.org
- Mentor a kid who recently aged out of foster care.
This is a HUGE need that involves NO diapers and no change to your own home.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is an option to consider. While the program isn't specifically oriented to foster children, it reaches at-risk children and youth. Of course, you can also search the programs in your area. Google is your best friend, just search “foster care mentor program.”
- Become a CASA.
A CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) is a legal advocate whose sole intent is to advocate for the needs of a foster child in court. The numbers for this program just speak for themselves. Kids with CASAs spend an average of eight months less time in foster care, are more likely to be adopted, are half as likely to re-enter foster care, are less likely to be bounced from home to home. Here’s how: http://www.casaforchildren.org/site/c.mtJSJ7MPIsE/b.6350721/k.112A/What_Does_It_Mean_To_Be_a_CASA_Volunteer.htm
- Become licensed as a foster parent. Here's the thing: You can be any level of foster parent. You can decide just to do “respite care”, which is when you basically babysit for other foster parents. You can choose to take only newborns, you can choose to take only 17 year olds, you can choose to take one kid at a time, or huge sibling groups. You can choose to adopt or be a foster-only home. ANY of these options is going to serve kids who need help.
Here's another list of options: http://www.fosterthefamilyblog.com/foster-the-family-blog-1/2016/05/13/foster-caring-how-to-care-for-foster-children-without-becoming-a-foster-parent
And another one: http://www.fosterthefamilyblog.com/foster-the-family-blog-1/2016/04/19/visiting-orphans-caring-for-foster-children-by-caring-for-foster-families