Reserve time to gather around a good book or settle in for a movie night honoring the Black experience.



As foster parents, we are often provided the unique opportunity to care for children outside our own race or cultural heritage. This opportunity also brings huge responsibility as we must prepare ourselves to better understand the challenges and successes of people whose lives look different from our own. Black History Month offers a more intentional way for us to bring this education to the forefront and celebrate the contributions Black Americans have made and continue to make every day.  

Reserve time to gather around a good book or settle in for a movie night honoring the Black experienceWe have a great list of recommendations meant to both educate and entertain, so go pop some popcorn and get ready for the powerful conversations that are sure to follow 

February is dedicated to Black History, but books and films like these need space in our lives throughout the year. Commit to furthering your understanding by tuning in to the resources suggested below and dedicating some time for them each month going forward. Kiddos of all colors can benefit from these inspirational stories, and after the year we’ve all just had, who couldn’t use a little inspiration? 


Our favorites:

10 Black History Books to Read as a Family 

The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles 

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History / Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History both by Vashti Harrison 

A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon by Suzanne Slade 

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine 

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Doreen Rappaport 

Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X by Ilyasha Shabazz 

My Name is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth by Ann Turner 

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson 

I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes (with illustrations by Bryan Collier) 

The Who Was Series including books such as Who Was Rosa Parks, Who Was Ida B. Wells, Who Was Frederick DouglassWho Is Barack Obama written by various authors 

*A huge assortment of books focused on Black History and Black voices are available via YouTube as read alouds, as well.  


10 Family-Friendly Movies Highlighting Black History in America 

A Ballerina’s Tale (NR) Documentary, 2015 

Hidden Figures (PG) Drama, Historical Drama, 2016 

Remember the Titans (PG) Sports/Drama, 2000 

Loving (PG-13) Romance/Drama, 2016 

Selma (PG-13) Drama, Historical Drama, 2014 

The Help (PG-13) Drama/Romance, 2011 

42 (PG-13) Sports/Drama, 2013 

Harriet (PG-13) Drama/Action, 2019  

Red Tails (PG-13) War/Drama, 2012 

The Great Debaters (PG-13) Drama/Historical Drama, 2007 

*Many of the films with the PG-13 rating are more suitable for older children and teens as they may contain strong and/or offensive language, violence, and other adult content



Do you have the Black History resources you would like to share? Comment below! 


“If it’s not too much trouble for you… “

– all foster parents

Imagine going from 2 to 4 children overnight. Or from 5 kiddos to 8 between lunch and dinner time. 


This is what many of our foster parents experience every day. They wake up in the morning completely unaware that later that day, they will say “yes” to a placement call, expanding their family by bedtime with little notice or preparation. True, they signed up for this. These situations are ones they have agreed to with every licensing paperwork completion, but it doesn’t make each addition, however temporary, any less of an adjustment.


Any small kindness you can provide throughout a placement makes the transition that much smoother for everyone. Those hours the foster family doesn’t have to spend making dinner or picking up diapers allows extra time for them to help their foster children feel welcomed and comfortable in their new surroundings. Every text sent to check-in or listening ear offered helps our foster families feel seen and appreciated for their work that often goes unnoticed.


We know not all families are called to adopt, but we do believe everybody can do something. Below is a list of very helpful (and easy!) ways you can support a foster family. Pick just one task or all of them! Either way, that family will be forever grateful.


15 ways to help support foster families

▪️ Learn each foster child’s name and take time to get to know them
▪️ Drop off a freezer meal with every new placement
▪️ Offer to wash winter coats & boots at the end of the season
▪️ Lend bikes if you have unused ones in the right size
▪️ Drop off a stack of disposable items to make life easier (paper plates, silverware, toilet paper, paper towels)
▪️ Text when you are at the store to see if they need anything
▪️ Be understanding when they don’t text back (they totally meant to!)
▪️ Drop off lunch just because
▪️ Offer to come and entertain the kids so foster parents can catch up on daily tasks like cleaning (or showering!)
▪️ On hard days, leave muffins or donuts on the doorstep
▪️ Help transport kids to activities or school
▪️ Listen & validate the foster family’s feelings – there are seriously so many feelings
▪️ Encourage your church to support local agencies and nonprofits
▪️ Complete the paperwork to be a substitute caregiver for them
▪️ Ask what they need, pushing past replies of “Nothing” or “I’m not sure” (accepting help is hard, even for foster parents)


Do you have the capacity to help foster families but don’t personally know of any? Simply contact our team. We know plenty and would love for you to join our circle of friends! 

Featured in our February Edition of The Ottawa Advocate

is the reason.



When Brad and Leslie Knoper became foster parents through Arbor Circle four years ago, they had imagined the journey ahead would be a means to grow their family. Having witnessed their parents and other relatives tackle this extraordinary work, they watched these families expand through eventual adoptions, assuming their path would look similar. What the Knopers hadn’t foreseen, however, was how God would intervene to use them in ways they could not have envisioned.

“We originally saw foster care as a means to grow our family. Now we see it as a way God can use us to help others.”                                                                                  ~ Leslie Knoper

     As a foster parent, it can be easy to get caught up in the overwhelming number of children within the system. Grappling with the sheer magnitude of this need leads some families to stretch and multiply in ways that many aren’t equipped to handle. Anyone who walks this road encounters at least one foster or adoptive family driving a conversion van bursting with kids, and many of us stop (sometimes only momentarily) to wonder if our own family might someday look the same. While the forever expanding family is amazing, there are other families who choose to take a different route, one that is no less taxing or inspiring. The Knopers provide this type of foster home, a safe haven in which they focus on a single foster child at a time, pouring all they can into that one special kiddo.
“Each child deserves to be loved regardless of the hurt that we will feel when they move,”
     To date, the Knopers have fostered four children, the last two having found successful reunification with their mothers. While this is the central goal of foster care, we know this is not always how these stories end, and we acknowledge how conflicting emotions around reunification can be. “Each child deserves to be loved regardless of the hurt that we will feel when they move,” Leslie commented. Understanding this, the Knopers do all they can to support parents struggling to bring their families back together. Through both the mothers’ difficult work and their own, the bonus children who once filled the Knoper’s home were able to return safely to their own homes once again.
     “It was so beautiful to see these women overcome so much to fight to have their children back. And thankfully, we became friends with them along the way and continue to encourage them even after the cases closed,” Leslie explained. The formation of true relationships between foster families and families with children in care is arguably one of the most difficult aspects of this work, and the Knopers have found healthy ways to accomplish this necessary challenge.
     “We try to establish good boundaries and lots of communication from the beginning of each case,” they stated, often texting parents to keep them informed. “We pass along art work and school papers, so parents feel a part of their children’s daily life.” They also take steps to include Moms and Dads in those milestone moments like birthdays and holidays, providing it’s safe and has met agency approval. “In the final stages of the reunification process, we do the transportation for visits to build trust. We pray for them and encourage them. It’s so important that parents know we are on their team,” added Leslie.
“We try to establish good boundaries and lots of communication from the beginning of each case,”
     This month’s featured foster family depends on their own team of cheerleaders, as well, crediting their friends and family with supporting them through the ups and downs. The Knopers also herald the non-profit organization Mosaic as “a huge blessing” to their family by offering support groups, family events, book clubs and the clothing closet. “Don’t do it alone,” Leslie advises new and prospective foster parents. “You need support, encouragement and a community of family and friends to surround you. And some of these people need to understand trauma. Just being able to share with people who understand is priceless.”

     The Knopers are also grateful for the ways in which their family has grown through this process. The lessons of kindness, generosity, and understanding their two children have gained has been immeasurable, and the entire family has learned “how to really trust that God is in control.” Saying goodbye to each of the children that has become a part of their home has been difficult, of course, but the family knows they are called to do hard things as Leslie explained, “That’s why we keep saying, “Yes!”


By: Ashley Wirgau, Michigan Fosters