‘We received a little boy almost 3 years old. We didn’t have enough clothes or toys, but the joy on his face was the biggest blessing in the world.’: Mom shares important lesson about foster care, ‘When people say it takes a village, it does’

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“May is Foster Care Awareness Month. My goal for this month is to simply bring awareness. Foster Care is like so many other things: if you don’t talk about it, people don’t think about it. If I do nothing else with foster care as far as taking care of another child, I will talk about it. I will share my experiences. I will give a voice to these children that need our help. They need us to literally do something.

I started this Foster Care journey 6 years ago. My husband and I made this decision to become foster parents and therefore, a foster family. We had no idea how big our family would become. There’s the saying, ‘It takes a village’ to raise a child. That saying literally couldn’t be truer for foster families. I encourage everyone to pay attention to who is in their village. I believe everybody has a village of people that surround them. The village either lifts you up or beats you down.

Our village seems to be huge and for that, we are so grateful. If the thought of becoming a foster family has crossed your mind, start thinking about who would be in your village. To be completely honest, when my husband and I started our journey, I didn’t really think about the impact us being a foster family would have on our extended family and our friends. They stepped in and helped us in so many ways, I can’t even count them.

Courtesy of Julie Long

I remember a Christmas several years ago, we had just received a little boy. He was almost 3 years old. The wonderful thing about the foster care system in our county is foster children get tons of Christmas presents. We get to pick them up a week or so before Christmas. So, we didn’t have to scramble to try to find gifts for him. But even though we had that, our family stepped up and gave him so many presents, it was amazing. We didn’t have enough clothes for him yet. We didn’t have many toys for him yet. We just hadn’t had the time to get any of it. The joy on his face was the biggest blessing in the world. He opened gift after gift and was just thrilled beyond belief. Our family didn’t have to do that. But they did. They were being the village for him.

I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve asked for prayers for different situations for our foster children from the ladies at my church. They prayed. They would go through their own children’s old clothes and toys to have something or our latest placements. They were being the village.

Courtesy of Julie Long

So, when people say, ‘it takes a village,’ it does. The social workers are part of the village. The transporters that help you get the kids to appointments are the village. The therapist and counselors and teachers that give your foster child a little extra attention and time are part of the village. If you can take the child for a couple of hours so the foster family can have a break, do it. If you can bake a meal and drop it off because you found out the foster family just received a newborn baby, do it.

I understand not everybody can be a foster family. All I ask is if you can be the village for any child in the foster care system, then please do it. Just do something to help. Foster families get burnt out and overwhelmed. We need more of them, but we need healthy foster families. Being the village can be the way that you can contribute to the happiness of not only the foster child but also the foster family.”

Courtesy of Julie Long

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Julie Long. Follow her journey on Instagram hereDo you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories from Julie here:

‘My little sister and brother were taken to a foster home. They were only 5 and 3 years-old. They were so scared.’: Woman recounts journey to becoming a foster parent ‘we needed to take one step at a time’

‘Is your freezer full? Mine is. My boys, who are 18 and 13, shoot guns and hunt on our land. They enjoy it.’: In the midst of a pandemic, mom is proud her sons are ‘providers’

‘I had to remind my son whose prom has been postponed, ‘It could always be worse.’ School was their haven. It was their happy place.’: Mom asks others to not lose their perspective, ‘It could always be worse’

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