What do former first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, award-winning actor Eddie Murphy, and legendary songwriter John Lennon have in common? They were all in foster care. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, over 400,000 children are living with foster parents in the United States today.
A staggering number of children are displaced each year, seeking a safe place, a home where love reigns and hurts can heal. While working as a 911 dispatcher, I saw first-hand the need for foster families. Many times our officers would arrive at a call where the parents were rushed to the hospital, or arrested for criminal activity; it was the children who suffered most. They’d wait quietly in the police station, broken little souls awaiting social services to arrive and place them in a foster home. I couldn’t help but thank God for the parents who opened their homes to receive these little ones.
Jeff and Kim were parenting two beautiful teenage girls, Allison and Katie, when they adopted their daughter, Ruth age two, from Ethiopia. When international adoptions became almost impossible, they prayerfully pursued foster care. They are now fostering a brother and a sister ages three and five years old.
I spoke with Kim on the phone and she shared a couple statistics, “Most moms with kids in the foster care system have eight to ten children in the system. 85% of all foster kids have been abused or come from drug addicted environments.”
I could hear little ones playing in the background as she spouted off tough truths. I had to ask, “If this is so hard, why do you do it?”
“Because in 2003 God redeemed me. That’s why I do it. I love the children but I do it for Him.” She went on, “Sure, it can be tough, but getting to see God work, well, it’s incredible. I remind myself it’s not a sprint it’s a marathon. It’s an amazing feeling to know the children are here in a safe place. And, when the days are really hard, I remind myself; it’s a rough ride, but I know who’s driving.”
What You Need Before You Proceed
Before you run head first into foster parenting, there are a few things you need to be successful.
- Prayer. Seek the Lord fervently. Pray with your husband. This is a decision you need to make together. Remember, a three-fold cord is not easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
- Prepare. Do your homework. Look in your area for your local foster agency. Meet with them and discuss your goals and theirs. Talk to other parents who are already in the foster care system. Understand that there will be training classes and social service appointments to make-ready your home for a little one. (Matthew 11:10)
- Peers. Do you have a strong family/support system? It takes a village to raise a foster child. You will need encouraging people around you to assist when times get tough. (Proverbs 18:24)
- Patience. The most necessary fruit of the Spirit for a foster mom and dad. You must be willing to give of yourself in ways that will stretch you physically, emotionally and spiritually. (Galatians 5:22)
There is no greater sacrificial love than parenting. Is God asking you to partner with Him to nurture and encourage a foster child? Are you up for an adventure and quite possibly the ride of your life? Then, foster parenting just might be for you.
Find out more from Joanne at www.joannekraft.com.