I am a foster mom to teenage girls who need an emergency placement. These girls are usually very confused and scared. So many times, they just don’t understand what is going to happen to them.
They may only be with me for a day or two. But I want to ease their transition and help them feel as comfortable and as loved as possible during that time. The Bible says we are to take care of the orphans and the widows, and I felt called to do this.
I first became interested in this when I worked as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children in foster care. I saw their needs and the impact one volunteer could have on a child. I decided to get more involved, so I went through the training and became a foster mom in October 2019.
Many girls who are placed in my home come with their possessions in a trash bag. They are only given about ten minutes to gather their things before they are whisked away to my home. Many times, they grab clothes and some possessions but don’t have time to get things like deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo and socks. When they arrive, they are usually nervous, quiet and withdrawn.
I knew I had to find a way to make the girls placed in my care feel more comfortable. I came up with a plan: when they arrive, we head to Shake Shack so it’s not just an awkward one-on-one at my house. We eat a good meal, and talk about their friends, their school and what they like to do. I ask them off-the-wall questions such as describing your dream job. I want them to relax, and if they open up to me, I just listen.
When we get home, I have a goody bag for them with a lot of the bathroom essentials. And a nice duffel bag. I don’t want these kids to ever have to transport their sentimental items and clothes in a trash bag.
These kids are not trash and neither are their possessions. I want them to feel and know they are important. I now have a “foster closet” in my house which is fully stocked with any items these girls may need.
I used to buy all the items but as a single person, the cost adds up. My friends kept asking me how they could help. Not everyone has the ability to be a foster parent, but we can all find a way to help. I began posting an Amazon wish list on items for the girls, and those needs are quickly met by my supportive village.
In our Christian walk, we are all called to live more like Jesus every day and to follow what He did. If Jesus were here today, I truly believe He would stand up and advocate for the vulnerable. And these girls are certainly vulnerable. Jesus was always drawn to people that were forgotten and in need. I want to follow what He did, and love these teens like Jesus would love them if He was present.