Fostering can be both incredibly beautiful and incredibly difficult. That’s why FaithBridge Foster Care believes that no one should foster alone and created the Community of Care®. One of the most valuable ways that foster families can be supported is through respite care: overnight, short-term care for foster children. The Casey family has been providing respite care for several years now and have no doubt that this is the role in which God cast them in His story of caring for foster children.
- To provide breaks for foster families.
As a parent of two girls – Hannah and Lillian – I know that at any given moment, I could call my parents, in-laws or my sisters, and chances are, someone would be able to take my kids for the night or weekend. That isn’t the case for foster parents. When that was explained to me, I couldn’t get past it. I knew we could and should be that break for foster parents.
- To get our feet wet.
We thought that we would respite for six months or so as a trial run for foster care. We wanted to see how our girls, who were 4 and 7 years old at the time, would handle all the aspects of having other children in our home and then make the switch over into full-time, foster parenting when the time was right.
- To provide last-minute childcare in an emergency.
We have received many calls over the last four years when we were able to help, including caring for children when parents have been called out of town at the last minute and loving on kiddos when they were too sick for daycare. Remember Snowpocalypse of 2014?
- To be extended family for foster kids.
When our girls were little, my sister and parents would often call and offer to take the kids for us for a weekend. I thought they probably just felt sorry for my poor, little harried self and were trying to be nice. Once we started respiting, I understood. Yes, they wanted to give us some time to ourselves, but they really and truly loved our kids and wanted to spend time with them. That’s what has happened for us as respite parents. Our little friends have captured Crazy Uncle Ryan and Aunt C’s hearts. Extended family is important, and we feel it’s important to be that for these children.
- Because we have the beds.
I’m not trying to over simplify here, but I think about it that way all the time. Empty beds and cribs: they need them, and we have them.
- Because someone else said “yes” to the unknown.
A foster family could have a child for one night, three months or three years. Their willingness makes it easy to say “yes” to them. I can help for a night, a weekend or a week because they said yes to an unknown amount of time. It’s easy to serve those who serve as sacrificially and selflessly as foster parents.
- “Why not?” said Hannah, age 11.
We received a call last fall about taking three girls, two with special needs. One was in a wheelchair requiring a little extra help. I was feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought and discussing it with the family before calling our foster family consultant back with an answer. I’ll never forget when Hannah grabbed my hand and said, “why not?” Indeed, my sweet girl, why not?
- “Because I like playing with little kids and taking care of them,” said Lillian, age 8
My kids love it! They will spend days preparing for kids of any age to come. They’ll decorate the foster room, get toys out, plan activities, which usually include self-produced musicals, and pray for the kids by name. Once one kid leaves, they want to know who is coming next and when. If I don’t have an answer for them, they ask me to make calls to get an answer.
- To be cheerleaders and emotional support for the foster parents.
Just last week, foster parents who we’ve supported for the last few years finalized the adoption of their two sons who they had been fostering. For them it was a long, hard, painful, beautiful journey, and we walked alongside them for three years. We became expert listeners, comedians, prayers and distractors. God knew what he was doing when He connected our families together in this mission.
- Because we are commanded to care for orphans.
Caring for orphans looks different ways for different people. Some are called to provide financial support. Some are called to provide meals or transportation for foster families. Some are called to foster. Some are called to adopt. Some are called to advocate. Some are called to serve in orphanages. And for some beautiful, miracle of a reason, God has called our family to respite. We have now had over thirty children in our home and feel blessed to have been a small part of God’s BIG story for those little lives. Our prayer is that Jesus shows up and shows off every time we have a child in our home. We are merely vessels, trying our best to be obedient in what the Lord has for our family in this season of life. And we’ve been immeasurably blessed by the relationships and experiences he has guided us through so far along the way.