One of my favorite roles in life is being Aunt Sandra. Andy and I have four nieces and five nephews. We love having opportunities to pour into them any time we can. Even as they’ve gotten older, there has been something rich and special about these relationships. Our home is their second home; our family is their second family. It’s priceless to us.
Over the past five years, we’ve added to that niece/nephew count in a unique way. We’ve become “Aunt and Uncle” to some extraordinary kids who have found themselves in hard places.
In our churches, there are families who have decided to engage with foster kids. While some dive right into the deep end, becoming foster families, others have surrounded the foster families with support. They have played more of an “Aunt and Uncle” role in these kids’ lives. It’s an awesome role to play!
Our goal at Fostering Together is for each of our foster families to have a team of supporters assigned exclusively to them. Each family has their own Respite Family, and ideally, three Supporting Mentors.
Respite families have all of the training needed to have foster children in their homes overnight. Usually these “sleepovers” are on weekends. But, occasionally a foster family has an unexpected emergency or a need for the child to spend the night out.
Supporting Mentors offer assistance to the foster family for any daytime babysitting needs. They might provide meals on particularly busy days. Occasionally they pick kids up from school and get them to afternoon activities, thus giving the foster parents a break from the time they drop kids off at school until bedtime! What parent doesn’t adore a day to “catch up” on errands or have a mid-week date night?
Respite Families and Supporting Mentors play vital roles. Not only do the foster parents feel some pressure removed, the precious kids find themselves with the added benefit of “extended family.” They have consistent people in their lives who are familiar, fun, and safe. Most kids love a big cheering section at their ballgames and recitals. Foster kids are no different!
Beyond even these roles, there are more places to plug in with foster kids. Tutors, medical professionals, prayer warriors, court appointed special advocates (CASA)… all can find a place to serve foster kids.
If you’re interested, make an effort to do a little research in your area. I bet it won’t take you long to find a place to help. You think you’ll help change some kids’ lives for the better, but let me promise you this: that blessing goes BOTH ways!