A few months ago, I spoke at Fostering Hope, a recruiting event hosted by Care2Foster, in the Midlands about the impact of fostering on my biological children. During the weeks that followed the event, I spent time reflecting on the potential impact: more than 40 families requested more information, confirming their interest by taking those first important steps toward becoming licensed to foster.
The big picture of helping with finding foster families boosted my spirit in an unexpected way, and helped me feel like my feet were even more securely planted in this world of fostering. My biological children understood the potential impact as well. One of my daughters worked on the math: “If 40 more families get licensed, and each of those families helps five kids in the first year, that’s 200 kids who were helped!”
Then something very special happened weeks after the event. One afternoon, I was approached by someone I had just recently met, and she informed me that she attended the recruitment event in Columbia and wanted to ask me a few questions about fostering. She admitted that fostering has been on her heart and in her mind for nearly six months, but she hasn’t taken any action yet other than online research. I didn’t see her at the event because, as she admitted, she snuck in the back and left immediately after the last speaker concluded. I was the first person, other than her husband, to whom she had said the words out loud: “I want to become a foster parent.”
This encounter was extremely impactful for me because it proved the ripple effect our actions can have in the future. Foster parents often feel like we talk talk talk about fostering all the time. We don’t realize that we are planting seeds that may take months or years to grow. And the fact is there will be children who come into foster care in the future who will find the love and nurturing family they need at the exact time they need it. All because many months earlier, someone heard something a foster parent said when they didn’t realize anyone was listening.
I’ve had in depth conversations with numerous friends who say they may be interested in fostering children one day. I have to believe those seeds are growing in their hearts. I have to believe that the messages we are sharing about the desperate need for more foster homes will one day mesh with their life’s timeline for making it happen.
Serving on that event’s planning committee filled my bucket in surprising ways. I didn’t realize that helping to recruit other foster families would give me such a huge feeling of fulfillment and purpose. It reminded me that there are countless ways each of us can help children in foster care, ways that are completely separate from becoming licensed and welcoming children into our own homes. That sense of fulfillment is what led me to begin writing these blog posts.
So whether or not you are currently licensed to foster, please keep talking about it. You may spark someone’s interest, someone you didn’t even know was listening.
Fostering Hope began in Pickens County, when a group of people came together to find more families for children in foster care. It was a strategic approach that addressed the barriers to fostering and solicited widespread support. It took the entire community to pull it off –foster parents, teachers, church leaders, business people, agency staff, and advocates for children.
And it was wildly successful. 500 people attended, 100 expressed interest in fostering the night of the event, 80 signed up to start the process, and 40 became foster parents.
Follow Fostering Hope on Facebook for more information about how to get involved and to find (or start) events in your area.