Being a foster family for the past 2 + years has been quite a journey. We have experienced highs and lows, but through it all God has taught us more about His grace and love than most people get to learn in a lifetime. And we are so thankful.
Another thing we are thankful for – family and friends that have so lovingly and graciously poured into us – cooking meals, bringing gifts, and including our sweet littles in birthday and holiday celebrations. All of these individuals and the support they have offered, and continue to offer, have meaning to us that is beyond words. They are just as much a part of this foster care journey as we are.
In honor of the season of gift-giving, in honor of THE GREATEST gift, below are some of my favorite things that have been so sweetly bestowed on our family over the past 2 years. I hope those of you desiring to DO foster care in this way find the list informative, and that through it you discover practical ways to bless vulnerable children and foster families in your community.
MONOGRAM IT, YA’LL
OK, I’m from the South, so let’s just be honest, everything is better with a monogram! But I REALLY love monograms for my littles because it’s something they can truly call their own, keep forever, and just makes them feel extra special.
BigHouse Foundation has hosted a swimsuit and beach towel drive for foster children in Alabama EVERY year since 2009! Each towel is embroidered with the child’s name to make the gift uniquely their own. Another favorite monogrammed item is this blanket from Disney Store online. My mother always buys our kiddos one almost as soon as they darken the doorway. Thanks, MOM!
I can’t say enough about the Jesus Storybook Bible and DVDs. Sweet foster mama and TFI advocate Catie Lumpkin (This High Calling) of Birmingham, AL raves about these, and I agree. “The Jesus Storybook Bible tells the one story underneath all the stories of the Bible and points to the birth of a child, the Rescuer, Jesus.” Beautifully written and told.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is a favorite at the Rudd house, and makes a perfect ending to the day with its soft poetry and simple, but beautiful, illustrations. Sweet friend Marci bought our first copy, and I’ve probably ordered at least 3 more since! Be sure to order the board book version for the younger littles.
Duffle bags or backpacks like this one from L.L.Bean are great for school, overnight visits with family, and when saying our goodbyes. For an added special touch, fill with PJ’s, a toy, blanket, or age-appropriate school supplies. I cried when a precious senior adult at my church presented us with these for our twinsies over 14 months ago, and we use them daily. Thank you, Mrs. K!
A handprint ornament like this one is special to present to a birth family at a Christmastime visit. There are tons of ideas on Pinterest, even super simple ones on paper! Facilitating gift-making sessions at a foster home can mean a lot to both foster family and birth family, and communicates the love of Jesus in a creative way.
A meal is ALWAYS a welcome gesture, especially directly following a placement. Often, those times are filled with hurried doctor appointments, meetings at the agency, and school placement issues (buying last minute uniforms, supplies, etc.). Having that frozen casserole or other meal readily available really takes a load off, and paper products included make it a double winner = no dishes!! If your small group is looking to provide meals to a foster family after the placement of a little or littles, takethemameal.com can really help to simplify meal coordination.
Bestie and adoptive mama Tricia Butts of Betty Donne Photography makes it a point to take pictures of our kiddos every 6 months or so, and WOW, what a blessing! We frame and display in our home, and are able to provide really nice quality pictures to birth families. In addition, our littles get to leave our home with archived memories of what we hope were happy moments full of love and laughter.
This is something that I recently heard about that’s going on in north Alabama with a kind business owner. Once a month, he picks a different foster family yard and provides free one-time yard service. WHAT?! Yes, you heard me. How incredible. Foster families are busy families – taking kids to multiple appointments with doctors, birth families, case workers, as well as agency workers visiting foster family homes on a regular basis. The gift of yard work gifts that family with an extra 2 hours or so of family time that they would not have had otherwise.
I’ll stop here because I’ve gotten a little carried away and listed more than “a few” favorite things! It certainly takes a community to care for its most vulnerable, and my hope is that this post has inspired some ideas for ways you and your church can support foster care.
May the unspeakable gift of Jesus Christ transform hearts and homes this holiday season and change the way children and families in crisis are supported in your community. For it is when we enter the messy places, like foster care, that we truly see and understand HOPE that transcends destiny and overcomes circumstances.