I’ll never forget when our first respite care child, a three-year-old boy, came to our home. My wife and I were so excited and so nervous! All the training, home preparation, and prayer led to this moment.
This little boy’s foster parents came, visited a few minutes, and left him in our temporary care. Within the first few minutes of his arrival, he seemed to be acclimating well to us and to our home. He was doing so well that he shocked me when he turned to me and called me “daddy.” I was wide- eyed and looked at my wife and shrugged my shoulders to her as if to say, “How do I respond to that?”
I was told later by our social worker that this action is common for foster kids to call their caregivers “mommy” or “daddy.” That may be true, but to have a child who barely knows me call me the most intimate, personal name in the world, blew me away!
We have had other children come through our home since that first visit. Some come for a day, some for the weekend or longer. Some, but not all, have called me “daddy.” That’s OK with me.
These little special visitors to our home are not here for long, and I am their temporary daddy. So, while in our care, it is my prayer that each child sees a glimpse of what a daddy could be—how humbling and what a challenge! I have such a small window of time to give a positive experience for a child with a potentially broken and negative understanding of what a dad is supposed to be.
So as a temporary dad for foster children I encourage you to consider your relationship with three fathers:
Have a good relationship with your Heavenly Daddy.
Jesus addresses God, the Father, as “Abba,” the Arabic word for “daddy.” He is our Daddy as well. The closer you are to Him and the more time you spend with Him, the more you become like Him. We all know kids that pick up the mannerism and characteristics of their father. Stay close to our Abba Father, you will become more like Him.
Have a good relationship with your earthly daddy.
If you have a good relationship with your earthly daddy, great! Continue and maintain that relationship with your own dad. If not, then prayerfully seek to start a positive relationship with the man who raised you (biological dad, step dad, or both) if possible. Do your part to mend that broken relationship. Demonstrate the healing power of God’s mercy and grace in your own life. The child in your care needs to have hope that reunification that can happen with their own biological father. The best proof is to be your own example.
Have a good relationship with the daddy of the children in your care.
You may or may not ever know the biological father of the children in your care. But, always speak positive words about a child’s biological dad in the child’s presence. If you have the opportunity to meet the biological father, speak words of encouragement and blessing into his life.
Being a foster care dad is temporary but your impact is permanent. Make the most of it!
I’m happy to say I am no longer a temporary dad to the boy you read about earlier. No more temporary fathers for him. He now has a forever family and a forever daddy!
Happy Father’s Day!
Written by Scott Green, Lifeline Respite Foster Dad
Scott Green (pictured above) understanding the temporary nature of fatherhood all too well with his daughter, Madison, on her wedding day.
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