Let me make it clear: THIS IS NOT A PLEA FOR GIFTS!
(The baby doll and stroller was a gift from my parents.)
Today marks 2 weeks that Jason and I have been foster parents. I mean, technically I guess it’s been longer since we’ve been certified, but it’s been 2 weeks since we welcomed our first placement into our home, our precious little Ladybug. That means we’ve survived our first 2 weeks of parenthood. Yay! A lot of people asked us right away what we needed and how they could help. We were in a whirlwind of exhaustion…physical from carrying around a big toddler, but more so mental and emotional exhaustion. All we really wanted was a nap and people were offering us play dates and toys and clothes. We initially turned down offers for clothing (and toys and play dates) because we weren’t sure if L would be with us longer than a week. What we really wished someone would have offered was to bring us a meal or to come and sit with Ladybug for an hour so we could clean the house or run to the grocery store—things that we would have done before her arrival had we known when it would be. Thankfully, a few people said “Let me know if you need anything!” And I sheepishly responded, “Could you bring us a meal?” We were so drained at first, all I could muster the strength to make was pasta for several days in a row. Thankfully, two friends brought us 2 meals each, which really turned out to be enough food to get us through a week. Praise the Lord! After we found out we’d have L at least several weeks, I started accepting offers for clothing and toys since she really didn’t come with much of anything. So with my limited experience, here is my list of suggested gifts for new foster parents, should you happen upon some in your circle of friends:
• meals! Have I made this point clear already? Gift certificates for take out or pizza would be nice ideas too
• a date night. My parents offered to babysit one night after we put little Ladybug to bed, around 8pm. My mama said, “The best thing you can do for your child is love your spouse.” We went out for dinner and then went clothes shopping for her.
• toys. Ask the parents what they need or want though, because some kids might come with a lot of things or the parents might already have a big collection. Kids music, DVDs, book, games, Target and Amazon.com gift cards, are all great ideas.
• clothing. This is a sticky one. Some kids come with a lot of clothing. Ours came with a random hodge podge of items with hardly any matching outfits, some of it 2 sizes too small, some of it a size too big, no pajamas, no socks, no long pants. If it had only been for a week, we would have been fine. However, once we knew we had more time with her, we definitely needed some more items. (With toys and clothing keep in mind that anything you buy for the child, belongs to the child.)
• gift certificates for photography or getting prints made (Snapfish, Kodak, etc.) to capture and keep memories for the parents and for the kids to take with them
• offer to babysit, even if it’s just for an hour or two while the kid is napping. Figuring out when to clean the house, mow the lawn, etc. can be challenging for new parents.
• space. Visits with close friends and family were great but bonding, building attachments and trust with new parents take a lot of time. Meeting tons of new people can be really overwhelming for a child. For children who haven’t learned healthy attachment with adults, meeting a new adult that is instantly kissing you and telling you he or she loves you is not teaching the child healthy, normal relationship boundaries.
After writing this post, I realized I actually wrote about this before… from the other side of the fence. No contradictions but there is are also some ideas for gifts before the first child arrives.