My family has had the wonderful privilege of being foster parents to 4 different children since 2013. We were challenged to do Foster Care after watching a fascinating independent film that showed how the power of the gospel being displayed through the church had nearly eradicated the need for additional foster homes in one state. We had always talked about adoption at some point but God began to change our minds (we are still pro-adoption and would strongly encourage any follower of Christ of nearly any age to prayerfully consider such a step).
We have had the short term emergency placement - where the child is dropped for a few days and then taken away just as quickly. We have had the long term placement that eventually leads to adoption to some other family (another Christian family where they continue to learn about Jesus). We have had the long term placement of a medically fragile child that likely will never be adopted or leave foster care. It is heart breaking when a child leaves our home - my entire family (including me) will cry over the loss like a death in the family. We eat ice cream, play games and drown our sorrows for the evening in something fun - then the next day we start fresh wondering what next God will use us for.
We do not treat our foster children as - well foster children. We don't even call them that. They are ours - for as long as God gives them to us. We introduce them as ours, even the color of their melamine is drastically different than ours. We celebrate their birthdays and Christmas and any other event that is important. We take them on vacation. We have a wall of pictures in our house dedicated to our family - and each one of them is on it. Their names and faces are etched into our story.
Recently I heard that Suffolk County Foster care has only two - that is 2 - Dos, zwei - homes that are ready and capable of taking medically fragile children. That is astonishing. there are hundreds of churches, tens of thousands of Christians and only 2 families. How is that possible? Many will say - I can not do fostering or adoption. I could not disrupt our family, I do not have the time, I do not have the resources, I could not possibly give them up - subtly suggesting perhaps that I must be heartless that I am able to give them up.
We know both the Old and New Testaments are pro-adoption. James commands the church to take care of the orphans (and widows) because it is what pure religion looks like. We know we are adopted through the blood of Jesus - becoming joint heirs of the family of God. If anyone should be active in the adoption or foster care word it is followers of Jesus. Yet, the church is often not involved in orphan care. We put bumper stickers on our car, we might even congratulate the family that did it. It is one thing to say we are pro-life - but what about being willing to take that child that is not aborted but left at the hospital into your home. You can say your are pro life - or you could show you are pro life.
Now, not everyone is called to adopt. Not everyone is called to foster (and you might be one of those people or families) - but EVERYONE in the church is called to care of the fatherless and the orphan. Adoption is one way. Foster care is another way. Being a family that serves the adoptive or foster homes in your church is another way. Supporting Soundview Pregnancy services is another way. There are many ways to get involved. But there are also many excuses that keep many of us from doing anything.
This month - pray - ask God - how can you bring him glory by loving and serving the fatherless and the orphan. God may very well surprise you by directing you to do fostering. If you have questions about - my wife and I regularly talk with couples about the joys, struggles and benefits of fostering. We would be happy to talk with you. Being a foster home is not as hard, elusive or expensive as you might think - but it is rewarding - it will change the child who comes to your home, change biological children you already have, change your church. In fact you will probably discover you will be changed just as much if not more than the child who comes into your care. You may not be able to move across the world to share the gospel. But you could invite a young child who has no permanent home into yours - and to both share and demonstrate the life changing power of the gospel - all from the comfort of your couch, your backyard, in the car line, at McDonalds or Disney World.