Thank you to Pampers for generously donating a gift card to provide the gift of sleep! MomStart is a Pampers Baby Board member, and all opinions are our own.
The holiday season is a time of good cheer, sharing, and giving; a time to tell people what their presence means to us. That’s why every year, Pampers enlists the members of its Baby Board to become “Pampers Elves”, providing a gift card to pay it forward to a deserving family. I’ve participated in this project once before, and I was privileged to have the opportunity to do it again this year.
Did you know that in Oregon alone, 11,238 children spent at least one day in some kind of foster care in 2015? Although there are a variety of complex factors as to why this happens, the top reasons for entering foster care include neglect and parental drug abuse. For kids in stable homes, the Christmas season means getting excited for gifts, Santa, and family fun; but sadly, there are many children in our community who do not even have their basic needs provided to them.
To answer this need, Shelby and Luke became foster parents and started providing emergency respite care. When children are removed from a situation that is immediately dangerous – for example, abuse is occurring, or a parent is arrested – emergency respite care is arranged for a day or two while the state assesses the situation and determines placement. Respite care is also used as babysitting for families who need a break. There is an extreme lack of respite care options in Oregon at the moment, which has resulted in children spending the night in DHS offices or even in hotels. Shelby’s family is doing what they can to help these kids and provide some sense of safety and comfort in an unfathomably tumultuous situation.
In addition to providing a temporary safe haven for children through respite care, Shelby’s family also takes in longer-term placements. Earlier this summer, they took care of a child for many months who was then successfully reunited with their mother. 56.1% of children leaving foster care were reunited with their families in 2015, so the idea is to show compassion and give hope to, ideally, fix the issues in the home to make it safe for the child to return.
When I reached out to Shelby to tell her about my project, she told me that it was perfect timing because they had just gotten a new foster baby the day before – talk about serendipity! Their family had just moved into a new home over the summer, so I told her to make a list of some things they might need around the house to rest easier, and we made a date to go shopping together so she could pick out exactly what she needed.
We had a fun family day out planned to grab lunch, hang out, and do some shopping. I piled in the car with Shelby, Judah, and her newborn foster baby, a sweet little girl. We were joined by Shelby’s stepmom, brother, and his girlfriend, and it was so much fun! This was the first time I’d seen Shelby’s new home, so we took a look around and brainstormed some ideas for what to get at the store.
Another item we picked up to help with those nighttime feedings was an adjustable lamp to put by their bed. We picked out a lamp with three bulbs that can be aimed to provide soft, unobtrusive light. This way, they can see what they’re doing in the night without blasting everyone with the overhead light and making it harder to go to sleep. Shelby also mentioned that many of the foster children that have come to her home actually prefer to sleep with lights on, so a soft lamp can provide some peace of mind and make it easier to rest.