I recently went on a hike to take some time to be alone with the Lord. It was beautiful, the weather had not yet turned ridiculously hot, and so I hiked up the mountain, just me and Jesus. And while walking, I was listening to a song by Audio Adrenaline called “Kings and Queens“. If you haven’t heard it, you need to – it is powerful! And I was suddenly struck by a thought. Foster kids aren’t just “someone else’s kids”. They are the son or daughter to a foster or adoptive parent they may have never met.
Can you imagine how different things would be if we thought of foster children as our own, instead of someone else’s child? We would walk through fire for our biological children, but for a foster child, we are held back by our fear of the unknown. What if they were exposed to drugs? What if they have behavioral problems? What if they were abused? What if, what if, what if? If someone had told you not to have biological children because they could have challenges, would that have stopped you from having kids?
Since fostering and eventually adopting our daughter, my heart has been burdened for children in the foster care system. Foster children are not often seen (meaning we don’t know they are foster kids), and their stories not often heard (we don’t want to hear what they have been through- it’s too painful). It was only when I walked through the path of foster care toward adoption, that I could finally see and understand the complexity of this system. If you have never experienced the state foster care system, let me enlighten you. Currently, there are over 400,000 children in foster care at any given time. Their stories are heartbreaking, their wounds are deep, and they need you. My daughter entered foster care at birth, but she still feels the pain of not growing up with her birth parents and siblings.
Foster kids are strong, brave and yet scared at the same time, and they want permanency – the safety and security that comes from having someone to call mom and dad, a bed to sleep in, food to eat, and a place to call home. They are not drug babies, problem children, or a hopeless cause. They are not the circumstances they were born into; they are not responsible for the choices of their birth parents. They have the same potential as you and me, and were created for divine purpose, just like you and me.
Psalm 139:13-16 says “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
They could be your daughters and your sons. They are waiting for you. I don’t say that flippantly, or romantically. Taking in a child from foster care can be challenging. But as a Christian, I believe that we are called to stand in the gap for these children. We are not meant to be their savior- Jesus is their savior. But we are called to step forward and love them like Jesus would. It is time for true believers to step forward, to be the light in the darkness, to show them the transformational and unconditional love of Christ.
So what can you do?
- Become a foster parent or foster-to-adopt parent. It is not easy and there is no guarantee that you will be able to adopt a child that is placed with you. In fact approximately half of the children that enter foster care each year, return to their biological parents. But there are children who are languishing in the foster care system with no plan for permanency (aka no one willing to adopt them). So if you have thought about it, and don’t know the next steps to take, think that you can’t afford it, or that you would never be approved as a foster parent, please reach out, and we will put you in touch with people that can walk you through the process.
- Become a respite care provider. For anyone who is not ready to foster or adopt, but wants to help care for a foster child on a short term basis, respite care is a great option. Respite providers care for foster kids on a short term basis – a few hours or possibly a few days at a time to give foster parents a much needed break. If this is an option for you, please reach out.
- Meet a need. Foster families often find themselves in need of the most basic items. It is not uncommon for a foster parent to receive a call that children need to be picked up, and find that the child(ren) needs clothes, shoes, diapers, or even a car seat or crib. If you cannot volunteer your time, but can meet a tangible need, please reach out. Your gift will meet a need and be a HUGE blessing.
- Be a friend, extended family, and prayer partner for a foster child or foster family. Aside from the tangible needs, one of the most valuable thing you can give a foster family is your love, friendship and prayers. It takes a village to raise a child, and for many foster children, they have been uprooted from and lost contact with their community. So helping to build relationships encourages healthy attachment, emotional security, and a sense of normalcy that these children need.
There are several organizations that are helping foster families in your community. Here are a few that we recommend:
Everyone can do something. If you are ready to take the first step, and learn more about how you can help, please reach out to one of these great organizations.