May is Foster Care Awareness Month and I thought I’d take the opportunity to share a little of our journey with the hope and prayer that it will spur you to think about it for yourself.
Our road into foster care wasn’t an overnight, or easy, decision. For years we had concerns and questions about it, and convinced ourselves it was not something we could do. Foster care was something that other people did, and good for them, but we could never do that.
However, over time God worked in our hearts and opened our eyes to the huge need. We also got answers to our questions/concerns (or, at least most of them) and at the end of the day we really didn’t know why we wouldn’t move forward into foster care. We truly believe foster care is something everyone should consider (though I understand it is not something everyone is in the right stage to do). Why should everyone consider it? Because God is concerned about the orphaned.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…” – James 1:27a
“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” – Deut. 10:18
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…” – Psalm 68:5-6a
As the church, can’t we do better than what we are currently doing?
So is fear of the unknown the only thing holding you back? Then let me share some of our experiences. We have now been licensed for five months and have welcomed 2 baby boys, a 15-month-old girl, and a 7-year-old girl into our home. It’s been hard, it’s been awesome, it’s been every single emotion possible, but through it we have seen the goodness of our awesome Father. It is for His glory that we welcome these orphans into our home and show them an outpouring of love, as He has so generously loved us!
We’ve also felt the communion of saints come around us, both in prayer and practicality. We are so grateful for the baby items, clothes, and meals that have been given to us.
Perhaps something we were not prepared for was learning that not only do you welcome a child into your home, but a whole team of people: social workers, child advocates, doctors, and our wonderful foster care agency.
In what follows I list some of the fears that we had, and that I now hear from others. I would love to debunk these to help clear the path for you to move forward in faith on the road towards orphan care.
“I would get too attached.”
Absolutely! You will! And what a beautiful thing that will be for a child who, potentially, has never felt an attachment, or who is going through a tumultuous, trauma-filled life-changing event of being removed from their home. It is a blessing to be able to give that gift to a child, and if you are someone who’s worried about getting too attached, then you’re probably someone who should go into foster care. As Reframing Foster Care author Jason Johnson has said:
“Foster care means choosing the pain of a great loss if it means a child has received the gain of a great love.”
Isn’t that right there the beautiful gospel message?
“It will affect my biological children.”
Absolutely! It will! Foster care will teach them things about sin, the world, the brokenness of humanity in such a way that they will learn compassion, kindness and hospitality. They will open their hearts to a child, they will learn flexibility and their hearts will be broken in a way that brings them to their knees. They will see that time heals, that God is in control, and even if a child has left our home we can pray for them forever.
These are life long lessons that will, Lord willing, travel with them into adulthood.
“I don’t have enough space.”
Did you know you don’t need separate rooms for foster kids? The rules might be more flexible than you think. (We live in Washington State and licensing rules might be different where you are).
Depending on ages there are some restrictions for who can share with who, but don’t let the space issue hold you back! Last weekend, we had 3 girls in one room. Kids don’t need a big house, or a lot of space – they need love, safety, comfort and someone who will provide that their needs are met. What a gift to be able to provide that to a child in need, in the same way our Heavenly Father provides those things for us, his people!
“I couldn’t take a _____ year old into my house.”
You have a say as to what age the children will be who you are comfortable with welcoming into your home! If you think you could only handle a child under the age of 2, you can say that! If you only would like to take in teens, you can do that! As time goes on, what you’re comfortable with will change, and you can change your preferences. There are SO many children in need!
“Right now is not the right time.”
I agree, there are times in life that could be a bad time for your family to take on foster care. (Examples such as financial trouble/hardship, family or marriage hardship, illness). That said, I implore you to dig really deep to discover your motives in waiting for the “right time.” Did Jesus wait for “the right time” to heal those that needed healing? No! We can always look for reasons or excuses to put off doing the right thing. It’s our human nature.
I was there, I get it. Approaching this question of “the right time” with prayer and humility is the only way. We are not meant to feel “comfortable” on this earth! We have a heavenly goal and must press on towards it in faith! (Phil. 3:14)
In Washington State where I live there are approximately 10,000 children in foster care and the need is great everywhere else too. Even if it’s just one child’s life you touch, what a gift you’re giving to them!! I ask you to please pray and consider. Read the book Reframing Foster Care by Jason Johnson. It’s a short, easy, read and well worth it. And if you aren’t led to go into foster care, please consider how you can be a support to those that are.
I’ll end with a convicting quote from Jason Johnson. To God be the glory, and it is my prayer that you readers will soon be starting your own foster care journey, with Him as your guide!
“You may not see it now – you may not ever see it fully in this lifetime – but what you’re doing is of eternal significance. Fix your eyes there – on eternity – but be faithful here, today… and tomorrow, and then next week, trusting God with the outcome as you experience the beauty and pain and struggle and wonder of walking with Him along the journey. Daily, faithfully keep walking, keep making deposits into their lives, and keep trusting that what’s completely out of your control is absolutely in His. His sovereignty is our sanity … and our faithfulness is enough.”