Sarah: Jennifer, so many people are afraid to open their homes and hearts to foster care. Tell us what you focus on as you care for your babies.
Jennifer: I love seeing my kids grow and change and break the cycle of drugs, alcohol and abuse. I don't want to see them living on the streets, doing drugs or ending up in jail. They are better than that. God allowed each of them to be born and have a purpose on this earth. I truly thank God for them everyday. When I see them learn or grow or hear about what they want to be when they grow up, it gives me hope that we have done something right. I know it's not us but God in and through us. It gives me hope that our prayers are being answered.
Sarah: Do you have any advice for a new foster family just starting out?
Jennifer: You have to be the voice and advocate for the children that come into your home. Remember we don't know what these babies have been through, no matter the age. They need love. Even in days when they are throwing a tantrum or ragging or you are tired and not sure you can do another day, remember to still show them love and patience. It's going to be hard. Educate yourselves and learn as much as you can about mental illness, medicines and trauma. Don't set expectations high. It's very important to have a community. You will experience things during this journey that you would never expect. Self care is so important. For the longest time I thought it was selfish to do something for me. I was given these babies, they need me, I don't have time for self care. It was when I was at a breaking point I realized how wrong that thinking was. I can't pour into my family if I haven't poured into me. This is something I really want to stress. It's like they say on an airplane, put the mask on yourself first, then you can help others.
The other thing is God. There are days that without prayer, scripture, praise music I couldn't face the day. It sets the tone for the day. I want my kids to see that this is an important part of how we live our lives and make decisions about things in our lives.
And also, always give yourself GRACE!!!