FOSTERING COMMUNITY BLOG
New parents typically spend roughly 9 months preparing for the arrival of their baby. American culture has developed many different ways to celebrate the upcoming birth of a child, including: pregnancy announcements, gender reveal parties, maternity photo-shoots, and fun apps that illustrate a baby's current size and stage of development. Many first-time parents are thrown a baby shower to honor this new chapter, offer love and advice for the parents-to-be, and offset the heavy costs of all the items needed to care for the baby. Additionally, most working parents are able to alert their workplace of their needs ahead of time, and plan for their upcoming maternity or paternity leave.
Welcoming a new foster placement is not as predictable an experience...
A nine-month preparation period is reduced to as little as hours of warning before the child(ren)'s arrival. Foster parents do not know any information ahead of time, including gender, age, how many children need placing, how many belongings the child is coming with (which, in some cases, is none) and what the child's health and medical needs are. This time can be especially difficult for those fostering their first infant or toddler, who need the same variety of items that are typically provided through a baby shower registry - car seats, strollers, diapers, bottles, formula and high chair are large expenses that a foster parent needs to suddenly pay for. Working parents may have to adjust their work schedules with little to no notice, and quickly plan for childcare assistance.
Last weekend, Houston Angels got word that our Love Box family (supported by Houston Angels' board of directors on a monthly basis as part of the Love Box Program), welcomed a small infant into their home. Foster Mom had only several hours of notice to prepare for the baby's arrival. And to make matters more complicated, the baby was currently suffering from several broken bones - the full extent of his past trauma and future medical needs were not entirely known.
Houston Angels asked the community for help and so many heeded this call. Thanks to donations via an Amazon wishlist, Mom is getting so many crucial items that she immediately needed to care for this little one, such as a car seat and stroller, diapers and wipes, bottles, a bath mat and soap, onesies and swaddle. Her new baby wrap will allow her to move about the house while still holding the baby close to her body, which is important as he develops a new sense of comfort and security. A community pitched in to help this family, and now Mom can focus on helping this baby feel as safe and comfortable as possible, while also caring for her other children and getting through a busy month of court dates and case worker visits. This is fostering - heartbreaking, unpredictable, and a bit chaotic - but full of love, hope and redemption.
So how can you help a foster parent who has just welcomed a child into their home?
Raising a child takes a village, especially when the child comes from a hard place. Not everyone is called to actually foster or adopt a child, but there are so many ways to support the people who do. To find out more about Houston Angels and how you can help support the foster care community, please visit www.houangels.org.
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PO Box 420966
Houston, TX 77242