So really? Why foster care?
As God started directing us to do this, I realized something. I can count on one hand, maybe two, the number of Jesus-following foster parents I know.
Besides my grandparents, the unofficial foster parents, I don’t think I knew any other foster parents in the independent churches where I grew up.
Looking back over history, only a few civilizations valued children.
Many had no qualms (and some still don’t!) about leaving babies to die in the elements just because they were unwanted or burning them to death on the flaming-hot arms of an idol. We read of God telling his people several time through the Old Testament to care for the fatherless, to help them, to take up their cause. In the New Testament we start to see the picture of adoption with God adopting believers into His family. The writer of James says that true religion is “to look after orphans and widows in their distress.”
Following the founding of the church as we know it today, religious institutions seemed to become the haven for abandoned children and orphans.
Now in our modern day and age, it seems like those kids are left to the care of the state. There are some churches that do a fabulous job of orphan care, but it seems that many others just sit comfortably by.
Joe and I became very convicted that we personally were not actively seeking to care for the children in need or for widows (more frequently in our day and age, single moms).
How could we expect our churches to take up a call that we weren’t even willing to follow?
Our being foster parents goes much deeper than just wanting to do a good thing to feel good about ourselves. We want to obey. And we want to make a difference for the cause of Christ. We don’t know how God is going accomplish His purpose in us, but we know it had to start with us taking that first step of faith, with us saying,
“Yes, Lord. We will open our hearts and our homes to these little children you care so much about. It is ok if we hurt. It is ok if it isn’t easy. We want to sacrificially love like you do.”
And even before we completed our training or took in our first placement, we started praying that God would give our church a burden for the fatherless. Would you believe that in the next few months, God brought three different families to our church who had all experienced adoption in different ways? I stand in awe of God’s answer to prayer!
As we took up this call, we knew that we still had a primary obligation to our kids.
God blessed us with two biological sons (and hopefully he will give us more, either biologically or through adoption). As we press on in our journey, we will not do it at the expense of our little guys. Yes, they may learn to cope with loss at an early age, and yes, they will have to learn to share mommy and daddy. But we feel very strongly about keeping the birth order with our long-term placements. Big brother is our alpha male. Little brother follows closely behind.
We need to respect their positions and roles in our family.
We will offer respite care (short-term) for kids around our boys’ ages, but when it comes to months-long commitments, those little ones need to be younger.
In the future I’d love to write more about how we love and disciple our two little people through this calling. (It is a learning process for us, too!)
Our hope and prayer is that they will grow up with compassionate hearts, that they won’t think twice about our home being a haven for kids who need love and safety.
There’s going to have to be some intentional training along with that prayer. But that’s ok. This training is part of our calling and our stewardship of the kids that God has given and will continue to give to us.