RESPITE CARE = SHORT TERM TEMPORARY RELIEF TO THOSE WHO ARE CARING FOR CHILDREN IN THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM
I had the honor to provide respite care for my sister's 5 foster peeps this weekend. They are 11, 8, 4, 3, and 3. Two sibling groups. 4 girls and 1 boy. I had them from 5 p.m. Friday till 3 p.m. on Sunday.
I wasn't sure what the weekend would hold. I've cared for them one other time before, but just over night. They are the sweetest little peeps. They are in the foster care system. They come from two different families. That is where the similarities end. One sibling group comes from a huge well known family in the community. Their parents never miss a visit. Their parents
The other sibling group are lucky if mom shows up for her visit. No dad in the picture. No gifts. They come from a really rough environment, lived in a home with no running water. Only bathed once a week. Seems so unbelievable. They live here in the good ole USA and they had no running water. And they were only able to bathe once a week when their mama heated water on the stove for them. And this was their life, this was normal for them. But now, they have their own beds, my sister is teaching them about hygiene and keeping their bodies clean. They have clean clothes, someone cares whether they do their homework, someone cares that they have three nutritious meals a day, someone cares that they bathe everyday.
I see the differences between these to sibling groups. The one group that has experienced so little just soak everything up. They appreciate every single thing. And, they don't expect "more, bigger, better." Then I see the other sibling group that comes from an upper middle class upbringing that are showered with "stuff". They don't seem to appreciate or get when they are given something special, a treat, a surprise.
I wasn't sure what I'd do with 5 kids for an entire weekend. I didn't now how I would handle if one of them threw an enormous screaming fit that goes on for hours that is known to happen on a regular basis in that household. But I did know one thing, my sister and brother~in~love needed a respite weekend, to refresh, to relax, to just spend time with each other without any little people hanging on then, tattling, calling their names 50x every minutes.
They were almost empty nesters, my nephew is graduating from high school in June and my nieces have been on their own for a while now.
But God had other ideas. He broke their hearts for the things that breaks His. Children needing a safe, loving home. They were asked if they wanted to be on the foster/adopt program. They said NO. They don't feel that is the path God is leading them on. They feel they are to love as many kids as God places in their home.
My weekend with these little treasures was
We did not watch TV, all weekend! Friday night I read book after book to the three little ones while the two older ones colored and created fabulous drawings. Dinner was uneventful. I gave them two choices, grilled cheese or quesadillas. Each got to chose what they were having for dinner, everyone cleaned their plates.
Saturday morning again they had the choice of what to eat, cereal or eggs/bacon/toast. Again, no complaints, and everyone ate.
Then we had some fun. We went to the beach and ran, skipped, jumped, and collected buckets full of seashells. The kiddos had a blast! No whining, no tattling, no crying!!!
I did use a little bribery. They were told if they behaved, I'd take them to the movies after dinner. THOSE LITTLE PEEPS WERE WONDERFUL. Again, dinner went off without a hitch. They did their chores. And, we went to see Gnomeo and Juliette. They loved it!
When we got home we then had a dance party. Head/Shoulders/Knees/Toes, Hokey Pokey, Macarena, musical chairs. They laughed. They giggled. They screamed. They danced. It was so fun to watch these little treasures just being kids and having fun. Not having to worry about someone hurting them, or neglecting them. The least of these here in our own backyard.
Sunday I wasn't sure what we'd do. I decided to surprise them with a trip to Ostrichland USA, which is about 30 minutes down the road from my sis's place. They were all excited in anticipation of what their surprise would be. The group that came from the not so nice home ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. The other group looked around and said "where's the surprise?"
All the kids got to feed the ostriches and emus. They did have a good time. And the best part of all, they were all very well behaved.
My sister on the other hand, came down with the flu and spent the entire weekend in their hotel rooming puking her guts out. Poor kid. But at least she got to do it in peace without 5 little people calling her name every 22 seconds, without 5 little people knocking on her bedroom door every minute of the day.
And, as soon as she got home and I was on my way home, the fighting, the whining, the tattling, the fits started. Yes, these 5 little peeps are comfortable, safe, and at home with my sis...they act just like normal siblings, in a normal home, with parents that love them.
I was truly blessed to have been able to spend this time with them. It has opened my eyes to a big need right in my own backyard.
There are kids everywhere who need someone to love them. Who need someone to care about them. Who need someone to teach them about taking care of their bodies. Who need someone to teach them about Jesus. Who need someone to tell them they are loved, they are wanted, they are special.
Jesus tells us when we do for the least of these, we do for Him...
Resting in the SON,