Figuring Out Your Role - MetroFamily Magazine
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Figuring Out Your Role

by Jay Smith

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

Our family moved into a wonderful little neighborhood in Edmond in July of this past year. At first we didn’t really realize how great of a neighborhood it was. When we looked at the house we fell in love with it with very little thought of the neighborhood immediately around. Within the first two days of our living here we realized we stumbled into a neighborhood gold mine. Almost before we closed the gate to the Uhaul we had family after family coming by our house with cookies, names, phone numbers and a bunch of smiles and handshakes. We thought (and still think) we found Pleasantville.

One of the biggest pieces of this utopian street is our neighbor, Dale. Dale is an 81-year-old husband, dad, grandfather and now best friend to our 6-year-old son. He is everything I want to be when I grow up. He pulls in trash cans at almost every house on our entire street every week, walks around the neighborhood daily with his thumb up looking to hitch a ride a block or two to his house and he works hard to love everyone. All of Dale’s greatness was on full display one night when our family went over to visit him after dinner. Dale, my son and I all sat on his front porch and chatted. Before too long my son started to get bored. Dale sprung into action. After disappearing into his garage, Dale came out with two extendable play swords. It was on. My son and Mr. Dale sword fought for 30 minutes in his front yard. It was beautiful.

You see…the most wonderful thing about connecting ourselves in the need of foster and adoption is that there is an opportunity for each of us to engage, regardless of our gifts and abilities, in some unique and different ways. Often the biggest hurdle in presenting this issue and need is that people only ask and answer the question of whether or not they can be foster parents. Being foster and adoptive parents is only a piece of the possibilities in which one can engage in the issue at hand. Foster kids and families need support in a host of ways. Seeing this issue face to face and being honest with yourselves about the needs in our world should lead you to the question, what can I do?

Maybe you aren’t in a place (or may never be in a place) to become a foster parent. So what can you do with what you have? Can you be a respite caregiver? Can you be an alternate caregiver for a foster family? Can you support local organizations which connect and care for foster children and families financially? Can you support a family with your prayers or your presence? Are you a cook? Most people love food! You don’t have to take the largest step to do something impactful for a kid or family in need. It can be simple acts of radical love directed in the right direction that make all the difference.

For us, one of the most radiant examples of utilizing what you have or who you are to care for a foster or adoptive family is Dale. Dale isn’t a foster parent. He doesn’t volunteer at the shelter or help with respite. Heck, I’m not even 100 percent sure he knows that our son is adopted. It doesn’t matter. With his simple acts of love through sword fights, smiles, and befriending our son he has made a wonderful impact on our family.

Our world needs more Dales. Men and women called to engage the issue of children in and out of the system by simply being themselves. Loving people where they are. Finding ways to connect the heart of who they are to the needs in our world.

Jay is a foster parent and the associate pastor at New Covenant United Methodist Church in Edmond. Learn more about him and our other bloggers here and check out all our foster care resources here. If you want to volunteer to help foster kids, see this list of opportunities

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