May is National Foster Care Month.

Right now in the U.S., over 400,000 children are in foster care. And experts predict that the number could increase significantly after stay-at-home restrictions are lifted nationwide. Foster parents are needed now more than ever.

The Forgotten Initiative (TFI) is a foster care ministry Lifesong serves that exists to help support the foster care community through awareness, encouragement, and advocacy. Recently, the TFI team asked their audience of foster parents this one important question:

What is the #1 tip you would give to a new foster parent? Over 100 people responded.

Here are 5 consistent answers—

 

1. Get rid of your expectations.

“Get rid of your expectations—don’t adjust them, just get rid of them. Be flexible. And pray for LOTS of grace and give LOTS of love.” —Amber Gaull

“Take your expectations and throw them away. It will better than you thought in some ways and worse than you thought in other ways.” —Brandy Dotson

“Try not to think about all the possibilities of the future (positive or especially negative) and just focus on loving them today.” —Erika Klein

 

2. Build a community.

“Get committed community buy-in and support BEFORE you jump in. You’re not going to be able to do this well alone—ask and train trusted friends and family members in how to offer help and how to recognize when you need it.” —Jordan Mahoney

“Always say YES if someone offers to help—regardless of if you feel bad, don’t know what you need, feel like you have it handled or you have a dirty house!” —Korinna Duke

“Find a way to connect with other foster parents (in real life). We live in this terrible alternate reality where bad things happen to the children in our care and there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop it. You need a tribe, not people who will tell you that you are a hero while they stand by and watch the drama unfold.” —Simone Montayne

 

3. Remember your why.

“Always, always remember your ‘why.’ When you’re deep in the trenches and your feelings have been hurt and your calendar is out of control and the kids are being stinkers, pull that original app or home study out and remind yourself why you got into this to begin with. Sometimes we lose sight of that with time and we just need a reminder. Our non-fostering friends don’t always understand how to support us without encouraging us to quit, so if you don’t have the type of friends who can support you even when they don’t understand why you do it, be your own reminder.” —Tobey Wilkerson

 

4. Be mindful of your needs.

“Have a plan in place to take care of YOU too. Refresh as needed.” —Susan Manring

“Make sure you’re developing in your own emotional health so you can provide a healthier home for your foster babies.” —Amanda Whelden

“Ask for help when you need it. If you’re married, go ahead and schedule at least one date night a month! if you can afford a laundry service and your taking in sibling groups sign up for it!” —Rebecca Morgan

 

5. Trust God completely.

“Through good times and bad, trust in Jesus.” —Andrea Johnson

“Humble yourself before God each day. Recognize that you cannot do it in your own power and strength. We are not their savior, but He is!” —Sarah Butler

 

Click here for the full list of responses.

To those who serve children and families in foster care, thank you.

 

Want resources for the foster parent journey?

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