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.