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Finding Your Community to Navigate the Foster Care Journey With

By September 19, 2022Blog
Someone told me once: “As a foster parent, you will have people who love you and people who get you. And sometimes, those who love you the most may get you the least.” 
One of the hardest things about becoming a foster parent is realizing that the people you’ve walked through life with may not be the same people you share your foster care journey with.
I recently shared about the importance of protecting the stories of children in care. However, as foster parents, we can’t bottle everything up. It’s important to have a community, people to go to, that we can be open with.
When referring to those whoget” us, I’m talking about people with the capacity and experience to empathize with the dynamics of our home.
So, in considering who you could share your foster care journey openly with, I want to share with you three groups of people who might “get” you:

1. THOSE CONSIDERED PROFESSIONALS

Whether a professional is specific to you or your child, it’s often okay and best to share some of your child’s story with the professionals around you.
The goal in sharing with a professional should almost always be to increase a child’s safety and overall care. For example, you may decide it’s best to share part of your child’s story with a teacher or childcare worker because it allows for that child to succeed and be cared for in a classroom setting. Having been a foster parent of both a 16-year-old and a 3-year-old at the same time, I recognize there are different things to consider within different age groups. When possible, with older kids, we try to encourage and empower them to have some of these conversations on their own.
Here’s a list of professionals you may consider sharing with:
  • Counselor or Therapist
  • Physicians
  • Psychiatrists
  • Agency Worker
  • Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
  • Teacher or Childcare Worker
  • Church Leader
  • Non-Profit Leader
If you have access to a personal counselor or similar professional, these are great people to consider sharing openly with. At TFI, we say all the time that well cared for people, care well for people.” As caregivers, when we can share about the dynamics of our home and be cared for by another person, it gives way for us to provide better care to the kids in our home. 

2. PEOPLE WITH HIGH EMPATHY BUT LOW PROXIMITY

These are people who both understand you and spend little to no time around the child in your home. This combination is helpful as a foster parent. It can give you space to share what’s happening while knowing that their chances of interacting with your child are likely limited by distance or relationship.
This type of person or space might look like this:
  • A current or previous foster parent
  • A Foster Care Support Group
  • A local ministry or non-profit leader
While you want to discern the ways you share and who you share with, this type of person can free you up to honestly share how you’re feeling as a parent walking alongside the kids in your care.

3. SAFE FAMILY AND FRIENDS

I have experienced that it’s okay to share with some family and friends, but not all.
Here’s a guideline we follow in our home: When someone in our close circle spends quite a bit of time with the child in our care, we only share the most necessary information. An example of necessary information might be specific things that help increase the child’s safety within a particular setting. 
When sharing our child’s story, how do we know if someone is a safe family member or friend?
As you discern whether or not to share with family and friends, maybe consider the following guidelines:
  • Family and friends that don’t offer opinions after you share something.
  • Family and friends that don’t connect a child’s story directly with a political issue.
  • Family and friends that don’t seek more information than you originally offered.
  • Family and friends that listen for understanding and offer support.
Navigating the privacy of children in care can be tricky.
In our home, we tend to prioritize safety and care a little higher than privacy. We will share parts of this journey with others if it accomplishes that goal.
At the same time, we prioritize privacy over our desire to be seen and understood as caregivers. As foster parents, this is the difficult balancing act we must walk.
I hope this is helpful as you consider who you should feel comfortable openly sharing your foster care journey with, and I pray for wisdom, discernment, and love as you continue forward. The work you are doing matters deeply.
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Chandler James

Chandler is passionate about creating safe spaces for the next generation to become more like Jesus. He has spent the last 7 years serving as a Student & Next Gen Pastor, and loves mobilizing the church to meet needs within their community. Chandler and his wife, Caitlin, are foster parents in Houston, TX. Together, they enjoy a good vacation, trying new foods, and spending time with family.

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