Many times when people find out that my husband and I are foster parents, they say they've thought about fostering parenting, but... That's okay. Not everyone is cut out to be a foster parent. Your job, family, schedule, health or whatever may not fit the lifestyle needed to be a foster parent. If you are really interested in fostering parenting, but just don't think you can do it right now, consider just being a support for a foster parent that you know. I've complied a list of things you can do to help a foster family.
1) Pray for the child, the child's family, and the foster family. The stress and emotional toll for all involved is very high.
2) Consider donating used or new clothes. We are on our third foster placement now. The first two only came with the clothes on their backs. Our current placement has three sets of clothes. Pick up clothes at garage sales or clean out your own kids' closets. Ask the foster parent what the child currently needs.
3) Consider donating new or used toys. All three of our placements have shown up with no toys of their own. Our home is filled with toys, stuffed animals, and games, but there is something special about owning your own toy versus playing with someone else's toys.
4) Consider offering your time. I don't know what the rules are in every state, but our state is strict about who can watch or babysit the children. I can't just leave the foster children with my friend and go out on a date with my husband. So offering to watch the children may be out of the question, but there are other ways you can donate time. You can offer to come to the foster families house with a preplanned activity for the children so the foster mom can have time to fold the eight loads of laundry sitting in the laundry room. You could offer to mow the grass or take one of the biological children on a special outing. Be creative!
5) Be supportive and encouraging to the foster parents. I had one friend see me struggling with my children at the public library. She offered to keep an eye on three of them while I took one for a potty break. Another mom helped me load lunch plates as we struggled through the pot luck dinner line at church, while trying to hold a baby, hold multiple plates, and keep everyone in line. I am so appreciate every time someone steps in and lends a helping hand!
If you are a foster parent, please share other sugestions you might have.