A Heart for Respite Care
There are many areas to serve in our ministry, and all are vital to carrying out our mission to serve children and families. Respite care provides an opportunity to serve as a fill-in for foster parents when they need a break or when emergencies arise that require a temporary placement for a child in their care. And it’s an area that, for Casey Bly, gives a window into the daily lives of foster parents and foster children, and allows her to love on children in our care, while being a Christ-like mentor in their lives.
A HEAVENLY CALLING
Even before Casey and her husband, Ryan, were married, foster care was a huge part of their relationship. Ryan had been placed in a foster home when he was 15 years old, and had a really positive experience. His foster parents have been a huge influence on his, and now Casey’s, life. As Ryan shared more and more of his story with Casey, they knew before they even said “I do!” that they were called to the ministries of foster care and adoption.
For them, choosing Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes (ABCH) as their foster care ministry was an easy decision. “We knew we wanted to be with an organization that had the same beliefs as us, and had the mission to show children Christ’s love for them,” she says. Elise Vincent, Director of Social Services in our Birmingham office and long-time best friend of Casey, heard about the Bly’s interest in fostering, and encouraged them to learn more about us. It didn’t take long to make the decision to serve alongside ABCH! Because they had been in the process of getting approved for adoption, the training was simple, and they were able to begin their service with us in April of 2016.
EXPERIENCE IN RESPITE CARE
The Bly’s experience in respite care has been even more wonderful than they expected. They have loved each child they’ve been able to care for, and have gotten to watch our social workers up close, admiring them even more for what they do for our children on a daily basis. Casey reflects on her experience as a respite parent: “I remember the first baby we got a call for,” she says, “We had just gotten full approval maybe two days before . . . I remember they said they needed respite care for a few days, for a five-pound baby girl. I just started crying. I was so excited to be able to love on a baby girl while waiting on our own baby girl to adopt. God was so evident that day, (in) that we were doing what he was calling us to do.
Casey loves the opportunities to take care of the foster parents as well, by taking temporary care of their kids so they can have time to rest. “For us, we realized that respite care was so important for the full-time families to feel valued and not stuck at times. To be able to more effectively help these kids, you have to be rested. In doing respite, we are helping them in that manner.”
Casey admits that the most challenging part of being a respite parent, “is being sensitive to the kids in care. It is yet another change for them when they need to be placed in respite care, so we try to be very sensitive to that.” Undoubtedly, the most rewarding part for them is the love they receive from every child, in return for loving them unconditionally. What a picture of the body of Christ!
In the years to come, the Bly family has big dreams to continue their ministry to serve hurting children. In the near future, Ryan and Casey hope to adopt a baby girl from Ethiopia (see the photo below!). They also have a long-term goal to be full-time foster parents!
We are so thankful for the Bly family, and their hearts for children and families that also pursue and follow our God, whose heart yearns for a relationship with us all.
We originally shared this story in our Hero Fund quarterly e-news. To learn more about how you can become a Hero to a child in need too, visit our webpage here.