I’ve been really encouraged lately: a bunch of my friends have approached me saying they are considering foster care and want to ask some questions. I’m thrilled since it means a couple of things.
The first thing is that it means more kids are potentially going to find some great homes with some wonderful people to help cushion them in a terrible time. I wish I could take them all in, but the reality is that I can’t. We are simply one family and this is one of those cases where it truly “takes a village”.
Secondly, it means our example in fostering has made foster care a little more approachable.
I get it. I really do. Foster care can be scary. When I first began telling people this is what I thought God wants us to do, I was most often met, not with encouragement, but with some horror story of things going terribly awry. These stories were enough to scare even the most stalwart of people, might I add…
It dawned on me later though, that nobody likes to talk about the stories when everything goes right. There is no drama. Nobody remembers those ones. Sometimes, we don’t even notice the success stories even if they are next door, the family at church or school, or right in front of us just because they look so normal.
But that being said, there are plenty of horror stories. Just a few months ago, a situation came to light so horrendous where abuse was allegedly perpetrated by a CPS employee serving as a foster parent. Lawmakers are looking at ways in attempt to prevent this from happening, but this is just one that is known and I know there are thousands of others that go undiscovered. It makes my blood boil.
So, we got involved, but most people don’t. Situations like these can cause people to run the other direction screaming. Good people are scared to get involved in the mess of regulation and rules all serving to prevent the abuse that brought kids into the system in the first place. It’s uncomfortable and sometimes, we don’t want to touch something that is as much of a mess as social services can be with a ten foot pole.
In my experience, foster care is hard in a wonderful sort of way. It isn’t easy helping rebuild families and helping them make a break from things that are often generations in the making. It is shouldering some of the consequences for them and serving those the world deems undeserving. It is an awful lot like what Jesus did.
I think too many people have shied away from foster care because it is wrongly categorized as social justice. When we put it in that category, it is for activists, humanitarians, and celebrities. It’s not for normal people who are just trying to get by; it’s not our responsibility.
But foster care is not social justice. As much as we’d like, we can never educate and alleviate the poverty of the masses enough to stop this from happening. The problem of abused and neglected kids won’t ever be solved since we can never fully solve the issue of the darkness of our own hearts, at least not on our own. We need the grace of Christ.
The Bible describes what pure faith looks like in the first chapter of James. It calls us to be doers of the word rather than simply hearers. If we hear what God wants of us and choose not to do it, we haven’t really submitted ourselves to Him, have we? He calls us to care for the widows and orphans in verse 27, the most vulnerable in society. Foster kids are the orphans of today.
Foster care is simply stepping in and saying that we’ll meet the needs of a precious, hurting child. It is loving a person who can do nothing for us.
We can make such a tremendous impact and possibly change the trajectory of a child’s life for eternity. But, we can’t do this if all the good people stay away from getting involved. We are essentially saying that it is okay if foster kids are subjected to more abuse in horrific foster homes by omission.
Horror stories shouldn’t make us run away from the system; it should make us run to the system. It is easy to sit and rail against the system, but we have no moral authority if we aren’t willing to do anything about it.
That’s not social justice.
That’s Christian living.
That’s following Christ’s example.
Living out our faith is our responsibility and there are a myriad of ways that we can help impact these vulnerable kids for Christ, if we are only willing to take God’s word for what it is and not only hear, but do. No matter how bad and how hard, that is our responsibility. How it turns out is not our responsibility; that belongs solely to God, but we need to be willing.
Social justice just puts a Band-Aid on society’s ills. Christ changes people’s hearts and meets their deepest needs. We should never run from a chance to do what God does; we get to be a little bit of blue sky in an otherwise dark and cloudy situation.
8 thoughts on “It Takes a Village”
I admire those who are called and respond to being foster parents. There are so many children needing safe home, good places to lay down their heads at night. But I understand the questions that abound when you say you are signing up! People who aren’t called to that kind of ministry never think to say thank you to those willing. Not so here — I have a young friend from MOPS, well several in fact, who in addition to their children often have two or more foster kids in their home. I cannot say enough good things about their willingness to stretch themselves, their dollars, teach their own children some lessons about life, and more. So today via Sharing His Beauty I am saying thank you to you!
One day I hope to foster. I have approached agencies, but they want our family to provide a separate bedroom for each child we take on. With my own five children in a three bedroom house this is just not possible yet. In the future, I want our house to be better suited, so that we can open our doors as much as I have opened my heart.
I’m sorry that it hasn’t worked out for you, Sarah! We are licensed through our county and fortunately, they don’t have that requirement. We wouldn’t be able to do it either if that was the case since we have three bedrooms as well and three bio sons. However, our county caps us at having 5 kids at any given time and that includes our bio kids. I think it is so admirable that you want to foster especially with your full house already 🙂 I love big families and think it is wonderful how you have opened up your heart to the needs of these precious kiddos 🙂
I always wanted to be a foster parent. Wish my husband could be on board with it. May God continue to bless you and your family and that you continue to be a blessing to the all the children that come into your home.
My husband and I prayerfully thought through being foster parents while our kids were teenagers. We saw the needs, but felt God wasn’t calling us to that challenge (at that time). As an alternative, I became a CASA – a Court Appointed Special Advocate (also called Guardian adLitem) for children in foster care. That experience has been a highlight of all volunteering I’ve ever done. I knew I was making a difference. I’d recommend being a CASA to those who aren’t in a suitable season of life or don’t have a spouse who can support fostering.
Wow, Lori! What an incredible experience! You are so right that there are alternatives for people who aren’t in a position to be able to foster, but still want to make an incredible difference! Thank you so much for all of your work too 🙂 I can’t tell you how much we have appreciated all the work our guardian ad litem has done for our foster daughter- that is such an important job being a voice for these kids. That is just as important as actually fostering, in my opinion 🙂
Hi S.L. I admire you for following your heart and your beliefs in this.
Thanks so much, Laura! It has been a huge blessing to be able to make an impact for Christ in this way! People have told me our infant foster daughter is blessed to have us, but truly, I feel blessed to be able to do this for her. Thank you for your encouragement!