Respite: Noun – A short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant.
Respite Care: the provision of short-term, temporary relief to those who are caring for family members, particularly family members who could not live on their own without special care.
Respite is a very important need for families who provide foster care or who adopt, particularly if the children are adopted from HARD backgrounds, are older or have other special needs. For foster families, respite providers who can watch their children for more than a couple hours, a little paperwork has to be done first (a background check). For adoptive families, only willingness is a requirement. Is God asking you to make yourself available as a regular respite care provider?
Respite care can save marriages. It can save an adoption under heavy fire. I want to speak especially about stepping in to help a family struggling with attachment issues. Any human being who has been torn up from their roots is going to struggle with trust. Many children in our world never develop trust when they’re born and are instead subject to unfeeling, incomplete and harsh care for many of their formative years. Often some care is provided, but there are large gaps. Food is provided, but no love, no protection. Abuse happens.
When broken children come into a stable home, life is not perfect right away! Adoptive parents want nothing more than healing and redemption for their child. But the depths of grief and brokenness in a child can be seen through: deliberate misbehaving, lying, stealing, hurting others physically, playing parents against each other, tantrums and other anger outbursts. These behaviors last beyond typical age boundaries and continue for weeks and years even in the best therapeutic parenting environments. This is why caring for a child for a few hours to a few weeks strengthens and refreshes parents. It allows parents to make new game plans, and lifts the burden of the immediate needs of the child so that more effective parenting can be initiated.
Families providing respite care need to have frank and encouraging discussions about any specific parenting strategies that need to happen in the respite home to support what progress is being made at home. Please, consider if God is calling you to support families around you through respite care. Do you know a family who may be struggling with attachment? How about a mother of many little children? She could use support too. Or do you know a foster family? Mother’s helper type support (housework, in-home babysitting during the day) can also give hope to the weary. If you don’t know a particular family who needs help (and you’ve asked around), register yourself as a respite provider with your county/state and be available to foster families who need help.
Your support can make a difference in a family’s life. For many, the dedicated support of community around them even determines whether they can adopt in the first place. You can make a difference in the life of an orphan.
It’s time to be God’s hands and feet!
Matthew 25:35-40 – Jesus speaking:
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’