Volunteer Stories – Claire Davis

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Today, we’re celebrating Claire Davis. A long-time paperwork guide and foster and adoptive parent, Claire shares some practical tips on how you can support a foster family in need!

1.  Tell us a little about yourself! What is your name, where are you from, and how did you become familiar with Fostering Hope Austin and its mission? 

Hi, my name is Claire Davis. I was born in a suburb of Houston but we moved to the South Austin/North Hays area when I was 4 years old.  Except for going off to college, I’ve stayed in the Buda/Kyle area most of my life.  I heard about Fostering Hope from our foster/adopt agency, DePelchin, who recommended the babysitter course for our friends and family that wanted to support us as foster parents. 

2. Why did you start volunteering with Fostering Hope Austin? How has your volunteer work with us translated into you helping others? 

I immediately fell in love with all that Fostering Hope does.  All of the education they provide to foster parents, friends and family of foster parents and the community at large. Foster families need trauma-informed care to extend beyond their home for the children they are parenting.  We need trauma competent educators. We need trauma competent church volunteers. We need trauma competent babysitters. We need trauma competent extended family and friends. 

I have had the opportunity to be certified to babysit for my fellow foster parent friends who are licensed through a different agency than me.  I’ve connected with other foster parents via their Facebook groups.  I have served as a paperwork guide for their babysitter training, answering questions and assisting with roadblocks. 

3. Why do you keep volunteering with us? 

I continue volunteering for all the same reasons I started volunteering, and I will continue to do so even after our season of fostering has come to a close! I see it as a way I can continue to give back and come alongside others even if I’ve run out of room and bandwidth in my own home.  

4. How has volunteering with us positively impacted your life?

It has absolutely positively impacted my life. It gave me a lot of hope when I was trying to increase awareness at my church. I was a bit discouraged at how underserved and misunderstood foster parents and foster kids are as a whole in most churches across the country.  Fostering Hope came and did a compassion building class for our children’s ministry volunteers about a year ago and did a fabulous job. My church is much farther along now in their awareness and understanding. 

5.  Why do you think it’s important for people to volunteer their time to support those in the fostering or adoption space? Any practical tips for those who want to get involved helping others but aren’t sure how to get started? 

Fostering is hard. It’s emotionally taxing. It’s mentally taxing.  It can be a very high-stress situation.  There are no baby showers typically.  You don’t have 9 months to prepare.  You don’t always have grandparents rushing in to love on the new arrival and give you a break.  Many don’t realize that a meal calendar would be such a blessing even if the family is getting a new teenager.  I would go so far as to say it is as big or even a bigger adjustment than bringing home a newborn from the hospital.  You are scrambling to get the material needs met for a child that came to you with nothing and with very little notice.  You’re trying to help everyone get to know each other and live with each other.  You’re navigating trauma behaviors and fear and anxiety that you don’t always get a whole lot of history on before diving in headfirst.  Sometimes you don’t get much sleep and it’s really easy to forget to eat and care for yourself as a foster parent, especially the first month or two after placement. 

Fostering and adoption are needed.  This is so unfortunately true.  So, if fostering and adopting is hard and they are needed, we must support those who foster and adopt if we are not able to do so ourselves.  For me, as a foster and adoptive parent, it’s a no brainer.  It’s not a question of should you support foster parents and foster kids, but rather how should you. 

My suggestions: 

  • Take them meals. 
  • Get certified to babysit for them and don’t wait for them to call you.  Call them and offer dates and times that you are available to give them a break or a date night.  I promise the kinds of people that foster generally aren’t good at asking for those kinds of things. 
  • Hand me downs are great!
  • Throw them a gift card shower when they first get licensed. 
  • Offer to take their grocery list and do their shopping for them. 
  • For your extroverted foster parent friends, just go hang out at their house with them.  Do the background check so that you can be a frequent visitor and just be there.  It’s so easy for foster parents to feel isolated. 
  • Get educated on trauma-informed care so that you can be compassionate and understand why your friends are parenting the way they are and why their kids behave the way they do. 
  • Send them little care packages for the parents (bath bombs, wine, chocolate, adult coloring books, Starbucks…)   
  • Send care packages for the kids.  Ask about what they are into and put together a welcome to your new home basket. 
  • Anything you would do traditionally for a new parent, do that for foster or adopt parents with a new child in their home. 

Thank you Claire for your hard work and insightful tips!