Keeping Things in Perspective as a Foster Parent

How can I make up for all of the pain this child has suffered?

Am I really the right person to do this?

Can I stick with this child over the long run and give her the stability and security that she needs?

These questions come up for almost every foster parent at some point in their fostering journey.

Obviously, there are no easy answers to these questions.

But there are some things to keep in mind.

Remember that no one can undo what happened to your foster child in the past. But you can offer a variety of corrective experiences which will help her heal and grow.

These experiences happen mostly within the context of your normal family life. Being safe and cared for in a loving home does wonders for kids who have experienced trauma. The everyday predictable routines of getting ready for school, meal times and hanging out with family give children a sense of security. As they feel more secure, they can begin to develop trusting relationships with the people around them.

woman-538396_1280If you’re caring for them, you are the right person to do it. If you can provide the safety of a strong family, you have what it takes to parent your foster child. Like all children, your foster child has the simple human need for things like for love, consistency, discipline and guidance. And those are things that you can provide.

It may be that your foster child has some special needs that you and your family can’t meet without outside support. The social worker from your foster care agency should work with you to help address those needs. That is the promise your foster care agency makes to you when you take the extraordinary step of fostering a child.

Sticking with your foster child through her inevitable ups and downs will show her the unconditional commitment that is the foundation for healthy human development. When foster children begin to believe they are secure in their home and family, they can let go of some of the pain which has made life so difficult for them and, sometimes, difficult for those who care for them. The young person who came into your home with so many fears and reservations can begin to relax and start to become a happier and more confident person.

Hanging in there with your foster child isn’t always easy. But rest assured, you are helping her move past the pain. You are the right person. And chances are, you can stick with her. 

Not Ready to Be a Foster Parent? Help by Volunteering

Foster Care tablingFoster care is all over the news in Massachusetts. Story after story has lots of people wanting to help. But they’re not sure how. For many, becoming a foster parent is not a possibility – sometimes not now, maybe not ever. That’s okay. And it doesn’t mean you can’t help.

There are many great organizations in Massachusetts working to make life better for foster children, and they all rely on volunteers to help deliver kindness, stability, support and safety.

A great example is CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children. CASA recruits and trains volunteers to advocate for foster kids in front of judges who make decisions about children’s living situations. CASA is a national program, with local affiliates in most states.

Another group helping foster kids is Together We Rise. Founded by college students, it hosts events and raises money for many different projects, such as providing duffel bags and donating bikes to foster kids, funding trips where siblings are reunited at Disneyworld, and even offering college scholarships.

Volunteers are the heart and soul of many of these organizations, and Plummer Foster Care as well as Plummer’s Group Home, also benefit from volunteer efforts. Our dedicated supporters give as they can, whether that means dropping off boxes of favorite kids’ cereals a few times a year, baking pies for Thanksgiving, making birthday cakes, raking leaves in the fall, planting flowers in the spring, or staffing tables with information about Plummer Foster Care at various events in the region.

Even if you can’t be foster parent, perhaps you have a special talent or skill you can share. Are you good at math? Music? Reading? Can you spare a little extra time to pick up groceries? Give a kid a ride?  If you, like many people, want to help, please let us know! There are so many children who can benefit from your generosity.

Call Plummer Foster Care at 978-955-9555 today!

Other resources for ideas about how to help kids in foster care:

https://www.childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth/resources/communities/#informed

http://foster2forever.com/2014/05/help-foster-child-family.html

http://nfpaonline.org/

Foster Parents Make a Difference: Part 2 of 2

girl happy 2Parenting teenagers can feel like a thankless job, so when Mary received the following letter from Lydia she was incredibly touched. Mary was happy to share (with the permission of Lydia) this moment with us:

Well…I’m not sure how to thank you for everything you’ve done for me.  You always help me with everything and even if I’m suffering with my depression or even when I’m down or mad. 

To be honest I’m happy and proud to be your foster daughter.  You never give up on me; hardly ever.  I’m always blessed that you teach me what is right and wrong and tell me stories to make me feel better and smile.  You teach me life lessons.

If my mother was alive, she would be so glad that you are taking care of me and protecting me.  I’m so glad that you are in my life now.  You are probably the only person I trust with everything and the only person who has been there since my family hasn’t been around or asked about me. 

I’m glad to be part of the family and at least to have the best and craziest and funniest family. Half the time I feel like I’m not a foster child.  I feel like I’m part of the family.

You have helped me since the beginning until now.  You have inspired me so much by all the stories you have told and by what you do every single day taking care of all of us and treating us all the same. 

I love you very much and care about you very much—a lot.  Thank you for supporting me and the love and care you give me. 

Love, Lydia

16 year old Lydia has been in foster care since the age of three.  She has been moved seven times.  When Lydia moved in with Mary’s family, she was very angry and felt that everyone had always abandoned her.  She trusted no one and was convinced that something must be wrong with her.  Mary assured Lydia that nothing was wrong with her, and that she was welcome in Mary’s home.

Lydia is now a junior in high school and is passing all of her classes in spite of this being the third high school she has had to attend. She is very proud of her perfect attendance and is well liked by her teachers and peers.  She is looking forward to going to college.  Mary describes her as a kind, compassionate and special young lady.