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"Will you ever do long-term foster care?": Respite Foster Mom's Response

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

This is one of our "most frequently asked questions." If you exclusively provide respite care, you'll get this question, too.

foster children

For some families, respite care is a steppingstone on their way to long-term care. (It is, in fact, a GREAT way to become familiar with the foster care system and figure out your abilities before diving in to a long-term placement.) For others, respite care works best for their family and it's what they're passionate about - and they stick with it for the long haul.

For my family, respite care was the best way for us to "dip our toes in." We didn't know much about foster care and respite care was less intimidating for us as we started out. During our licensing process we learned how few respite families there are in our area and over time, we really grew in our understanding of the importance of respite care specifically.

I always felt an unexplainable peace about our role in the foster care world. I never felt convicted that I "should" be providing long-term care because my convictions led me to respite care. So, when people asked that question, I responded with, "That's not something we're exploring right now - but we'll never say never!"

Several years into our journey, I realized that the unexplainable peace I felt about respite foster care wasn't just a coincidence. For the full duration of my pregnancy, I experienced debilitating sickness that kept me from being able to work or take care of myself. I often think about what would've happened if we had been doing long-term foster care. That child would have probably gone to another foster home, which would have been devastating. I really think the Lord above knew how sick I would become, and He gave us an assignment (respite care) that wouldn't cause any additional disruption for a child in care who needs stability more than ever.

I tell this story as an encouragement to follow your convictions (unless your conviction is to do absolutely nothing, in which case you should question it) and be confident in the role you've chosen!

What to Say When You're Asked

When you're asked about long-term care, you can respond with whatever best describes your circumstance:

"Respite care is working really well for our family right now!"

"In this season, this is what we feel called to do."

"Long-term care and respite care have different goals. We feel best equipped to

support long-term families and respite care allows us to do that."

As always, another acceptable response is "I don't know!" Foster care facilitates a lot questions that have "I don't know" as the answer - so you'll get used to that phrase pretty quickly. :)

Long-term Care is Great, Too!

Long-term foster care is absolutely amazing. If you feel equipped to dive in to long-term care, do it. In order for the foster care community to function well, it needs people to get involved from many different angles and long-term foster parents are a very large piece of the puzzle.

The main idea is this: foster care has a lot of needs and we just need to jump in where we can. Seasons change, what we can offer may change - but we've got to be involved.

If you're not sure where to jump in, I would encourage you to just start somewhere! Check out my blog about ways to get involved for ideas.

Emily | Respite Foster Mom


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