Foster parents are tempted to become Lone Rangers. The thought many foster parents have is, “if I admit I need help, I may not be viewed as a good parent.” I know that from personal experience. We were tempted to disrupt on more than one occasion. Our first child was defiant, stomped his feet at us, spit at us, and had terrible night terrors his first year. Realizing that we could not do it alone, we reached out to counselors, teachers, and pastors. At first, the attitude we received was, “Well, fostering is your job, not mine.” Eventually, we found a support group with people of like mind, and we received training, guidance, and emotional and spiritual support. Here are five support groups throughout the country that may be of use to you.
AZAFAP, based in Phoenix, Arizona, is a statewide organization that supports resource parents. For a small annual fee, they provide training, activities, parties, discounts to local venues, and free tickets to sporting events for foster/adopt families. More recently, they were able to invite 2,000 foster kids to a free concert with Taylor Swift. AZAFAP also coordinates summer camps for foster children and winter camps for foster families.
Project 1.27 (Colorado)
Project 1.27 is a faith-based ministry located in Colorado. Their mission is to support local churches who, in turn, support foster and adoptive families within their congregation. Project 1.27 assists in recruitment efforts, free events, training, and support for resource families. Project 1.27 is perhaps best known two things: basic training and Wrap Around Teams. Basic Training is a faith-based training used as a supplement to the state approved, pre-service training. They are also known for their Wrap Around Teams, which provide basic needs for foster/adopt parents such as meals, respite, social support. They are also located in Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, and Washington DC.
The Children’s Bureau (California)
This agency is located in throughout California, seeks to protect children through prevention, treatment, and advocacy. Perhaps their most effective support group is Dads Matter. This a gathering of fathers that provides training, support, mentoring and stability for fathers and father figures.
Foster and Adopt Family Services (New Jersey)
FAFS, based in Princeton, New Jersey, is a group that seeks to support foster and adoptive families. They offer training, support, activities and a blog for foster families. Their services are free. They’ve shared their mission on their Facebook page saying, “The heart of our mission is to provide advocacy and enriching programs and services to empower families and youth to thrive.”
You Gotta Believe! (New York)
Located in Brooklyn, New York, this agency caters to the 25,000 foster children located in New York. They provide training, support, and advocacy for children and youth. They assist teens ready to age out of the system and have monthly support group meetings.
Find a foster/adopt support group in your area that is sensitive to your needs and the needs of your child. Find a community of like minds where everyone shares the burden. With the proliferation of information on the Internet, online support groups have now become all the rage. Podcasts, radio programs, books, and magazines that focus on adoption are also becoming more abundant. Find a support group that works best for you and your family today.