Answer the Call to SERVE


So, maybe you can’t take a child into your home for a number of reasons – I get that.  For many the logistics are not right and that is OKAY!  As I shared yesterday, there are ways to serve that include more than just having a child in your home and I will cover many today.  If I’ve left one off, please feel free to add it in the comments.

I’ve also already received some questions which has prompted me to write a third post in this series.  I will share about how to address the impact on your family, especially if you have other children in your home when you are considering adoption in general, but especially with fostering.  Look for that on Thursday.

Please remember, I am not an expert in this area – the foster care system, but having journeyed through it there are some things I’ve seen, discovered and want to pass along – so if what I share differs in your state, my apologies.  I am going from what I know from Washington State Foster Care.


Within the term ‘fostering’ comes many different types.  This is where confusion may overwhelm and people get a bit confused.  Unless you know someone else or have done some research on the subject, it can shut you down because of not understanding the options.

Emergency Care

This type of fostering involves caring for children who need somewhere safe to stay immediately, usually for a few nights. This can often happen at very short notice.  Most often this is right when a child is removed from their home by CPS.

Respite Care

Respite involves children who already are placed with a foster family, but have  short stays with another foster family to give their current family/main caregivers a break. This usually involves looking after a child or young person for a weekend, one week or two weeks.  This is what we just did for the first time when we cared for a 9 month old so his foster placement could attend a family even tout of state.  Most states will not allow foster children to go out of state unless prior permission is obtained from the birth parent or court.

Short Term Care

Short term foster carers provide a temporary place to stay until the child can return home to their own family, move into a longer term fostering placement, or an adoptive family is found. This can last for a few weeks or months, sometimes longer.  This is a transitional time where the state is trying to come up with a plan and evaluate the situation with the allegations of neglect and the level of intervention that may need to be done with the birth parents.

Long Term Care

Sometimes a family decides to long-term foster a child instead of adopting because it may be anticipated that a high level of support for many years may be needed for the child and this is one way to guarantee access to it.  Also, some children may not be available for adoption, but unfortunately do not have family to return to, giving the only option to remain in permanent foster care until the age of 18.

Foster to Adopt

This is where you go into the foster care system specifically with the goal of coming out on the other side with an adoption.  This is where our heart was led when we first entered into the journey.  We were not interested in short care or long care, but rather only considered taking children into our home who had a high likelihood of NOT being returned to their birth parents.  Let me say, you can never guarantee anything and even with a foster to adopt placement, somewhere along the journey the child could be returned to the birth parents, or some other  bureaucratic procedure may removed the child from your home, this is what happened in our very first placement.

What about the person who desires to make a difference, but does not have a room in their home, or who’s heart is not meant to care for other children in this manner?  Don’t worry, there are other jobs that need filled too!

Other Needs for the willing


In our state we have people who are licensed and trained to be transporters for children.  This means you pick up and drop off children for different type of appointments, visits with birth parents, etc.  Obviously you are required to have a car and insurance as well as some other training.  This could be the perfect type of fit for someone who enjoys interacting with children and has some hours during the week to use to pour into a child.  My personal experience with the transporters we encountered was beyond wonderful.  Caring and nurturing people who genuinely loved these kids – it was such a nice feeling.

When you are fostering and your placement has scheduled visits with the birth parents, generally your child is picked up from your home and then dropped back off by a transporter.  You are not obligated to add this task into your schedule, which is nice.

Visit Supervisors

During a child’s visit with their birth parent there has to be a visit supervisor, someone who is present the entire time with the parent and child, observing and taking notes to compile a report of that visit for the courts and social worker.  Most times, this was the same person who did the transportation, but it does not have to be.

Other ideas

Most of what I shared previously are positions that are paid by the state at some level.  These other areas where you could offer support would be volunteering on your own, but still so valuable and ones that I found helpful when I was offered help.

Babysit – offer to get certified to be a babysitter for a foster family you know.  In our state certain background checks must be met in order to leave a child in someone’s care for any length of time.  It was such a nice break to go out for dinner or a walk ALONE and not have to drag a baby along – this little bit of service is really needed and so appreciated by foster parents.

Meal – make a double portion of a casserole and offer to bring one over for a foster family that you know.  As busy moms we know how much of a treat this is, well – a mom who has one or more mouths to feed will really appreciate it!  This is simple and yet so meaningful.

Tutoring – offer to tutor kids who need extra support.  As children are moved from home to home, it is extremely difficult for them to stay caught up in their school work.  If you have the heart to offer support in this way, I know you would find extreme joy in seeing children eat up the attention you could give them!

PrayerThis one everyone can do!  Even if you do not personally know of a family who is fostering, pray in general for children who are in the foster care system and those families who are caring for them.  I would be lying if I said the journey is easy – it is not.  It is hard, it plain really stinks at times. I get exhausted, crabby and have to apologize and ask forgiveness all the time.

As I shared with the mom who came to pick up the little bundle of sweetness yesterday, {we were both older moms, 46 who had grown kids, but yet here we are starting over in this parenting journey……what were we thinking???} even though I may not be the youngest most energetic mom, or the funnest and I will look pretty darn grey on top when my 3 year old graduates from high school, I know God is working in me each day, molding me to who he desires me to become.  It wouldn’t be happening any other way.  This may not have been my plan, but it is HIS plan and being obedient feels so great and much better than struggling with feelings on not being in HIS will.

I am not the best mom and I know it, but to my kids they think I am – and that’s all that matters!

I can tell you, if you choose to serve children, they will think you are pretty darn great too!

If you happen to live in Washington State, here is the link for more information on licensing.  In Washington State, we had to option to get licensed through a private agency, which helped us navigate through the process and helps with our placements.  This is not required and others just get licensed directly through the state.

What resonated in your heart today?

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Help Susan Help These Children!
  • Becoming a CASA (court appointed special advocate) is also a great way to serve foster care kids. CASA volunteers advocate on behalf of foster kids in the court room. It is a great way to make a lifelong impact in the life of a child!

  • YES! I knew I would forget something – thank you so much for sharing yet another way those who have a heart to help children can get involved!!

  • Lisa

    No one ever mentions this…but help a foster parent do housework. As the foster mom of a very high needs boy who blows through my house like a walking tornado I often just don’t have the energy for cleaning after dealing with his emotional issues.

  • I love that idea – yes, it didn’t even cross my mind – although I could always use the help too! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • We received our child through kinship. I was her childcare provider since she was a week and a half old. We fell in love with her started the foster license and she moved in at 4 months. We are now 6 months in and she was just moved to adoption!! God is so good! We feel blessed to been given this opportunity. It’s true what they say, “when one door closes another will open!”

  • That is great, also that you were obedient! Such a need and thank you for sharing your life, your home and hearts!

  • Tami

    Thank you for this. I just happened upon your post via pinterst. We are fostering a 16 month old – since he was 4 months old. Empty nesters starting over 🙂 We are 44 and 55 years old, so totally relate to be the momma with the grey hair!

  • WOW – I get it!! I just wrote about how I am the old mommy with a little one and it feels so weird! Thank you for opening your home.

  • Yadira

    I fostered around ten kids in my short period of three years. at the end I adopted three beautiful kids who today are 13, 10 and 5. would not have changed anything.

  • Awe, love that!!!!!

  • Sammi

    I will add #12 Share your baby/toddler gear and clothing/shoes, etc. Our crib/rocker/highchair were generously given to us by a dear friend and a few years later we got to give it back to her for her foster/adopted children Our kids have been blessed by dear friends and complete strangers who gave us clothes, shoes,strollers etc.

  • Great addition!!! Yes, we’ve shared a lot of items as well, certainly helps make it a bit easier

  • Breeann

    Hello, my husband and I are doing our classes for the county here this weekend for the fostering classes. We have so many questions and it seems as though the county informs is that they have time to answer any questions but there are some questions unanswered. For example when you get the call are you allowed to ask what the child’s file looks like so that you get a chance to review what the child has encountered? Also are you allowed to ask that you want long term somehow somewhere down the line. Even though my husband and I both know that it might be sometime before we get that opportunity. It would be some peace of mind and keep the hope of requesting for the line term (foster to adopt)

  • I think it really depends on the state and how they run. We were always able to look at the file, but that could vary – I pray you will get the support you need!! Thank you for stepping outside your comfort zone and helping!

  • Lesle

    Thanks for the information and alternatives to caring for children long term. My family is grown and I’ve been thinking of some type of short term commitment..

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