Around this time four years ago, I informed my parents that I would be getting licensed to be a foster mom that spring. They never blinked an eye...
Since that time, I have fostered nine children and the majority of them have spent a good amount of time with my family and extended family. This time with family is incredibly important in the lives of these children. Please bear with me as I explain why you, as a foster family's family, have such a paramount support role in the lives of these children and families.
These children, the majority of the time, have been pulled out of chaos and have been dropped into a foster home. Now let me be clear... This event in their young lives has nothing to do with them. They were powerless in their circumstances, an innocent bystander who was devastated by the poor decisions of others. They have lost everything they know as familiar and find dear. They have been removed and separated from the people and things that they love. They are lost, hurting, and scared. And more than anything, they need a shelter in the storm. They need to feel safe, loved and protected.
Will they have behaviors that are different than what you would expect out of your own children? Of course!! Just like the kids down the street from you are being raised in a different environment than at your house, these children are coming from a different environment as well.
And this is where your amazingly exciting role comes in!!
It is no surprise that all children need to see healthy, stable role models. For kids who have come into care out of situations with unhealthy family dynamics, this may be the only opportunity that they have in life to see these healthy dynamics at work around them. They are now able to see how families communicate, appreciate each other, and love each other in a healthy and appropriate manner. They can begin to see that there are families in which a child can trust their family members to not hurt and take advantage of them. They can see what it means for a family to spend quality time together and have fun. In essence, they can see God's design for family at work...
So whether you are a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, or second cousin twice removed to these foster kiddos, you have an incredibly important supporting role in the lives of those who will come through the home of this foster family!
With that being said, I understand that you may think your family members are weird or crazy for fostering. I know that sometimes there will be children who are difficult to deal with. I can sympathize with you if times are tough and your sister's family just took in a sibling set of 4 children, which is just not in your Christmas budget. I also am quite certain that this decision to foster may even make you feel like there's a strain on your relationship because things are just different now.
But the most important thing that I can express to you is this...
Your family who is fostering? They need you! They need your support. They need your ear. They need your presence. They need your hugs.
And their foster kiddos? They need you! They need your example. They need your love. They need your acceptance.
Whether you agree with the decision that your family members made to foster or not, they need you. Even if you feel like they are making choices that will affect their forever kids' lives irreparably, they need you. If you feel like having extra mouths to feed at Thanksgiving or extra presents to buy at Christmas is just too much of a strain, they need you anyway. What foster families need is for you to put your opinion aside, and support them in their ministry, the amazingly brutiful (brutal + beautiful) ministry that God has called them into.
And as the saying goes, "It takes a village to raise a child."
BE. THEIR. VILLAGE.