Opening our homes up to a stranger.
Opening up our hearts to certain pain.
In 2014, in Oklahoma, the monthly average for children residing in out-of-home care (foster homes, shelters, next-of-kin) was 11,483.
The number of foster homes at the end of 2014 in Oklahoma was just 6,294.
40-50% of children in foster care will not go on to graduate high school.
80% of our prison population in the United States was once in foster care.
(You can find this data to verify my facts here and here.)
Let’s break that down. We understand that winding up in the foster care system means the child has more than likely been taken from a dangerous home. A home that likely is single parent, uneducated, or drugs are present. These parents, were very likely from a broken home themselves. And if someone doesn’t intervene with these children, well, the odds are not in their favor that the cycle will stop with them.
As I am typing this; there are over 60 children falling asleep on a cot, in a shelter, with no one to kiss them goodnight, just a mere two miles from my home. My home filled with enough space and more than enough love to give.
These facts seem like impossible odds. But with GOD, all things are possible. Matthew 19:26
I HAVE to believe. I have to believe that God can change this. I have to believe that my one, teeny act of obedience could somehow be used by God to change the course of a child’s life. My hope lies in this.
Foster Parents are Brave, but They are NOT Fearless
I have fears. I’m full of them. Will this be detrimental to my children? Will this be painful for me? Will this be painful for my children? How will I say goodbye to a child I’ve loved for “x” amount of time? What if I don’t naturally love the child? Will I resent the child for being difficult? What if I can’t balance three kids? What if the child goes back to bad a environment? Will I be able to love this child knowing I will likely give them back? What if we’re given the option to adopt and I don’t want to? What if I want to adopt and we aren’t given the option?
I can’t answer these questions. But I can no longer ignore the question that has nagged at my heart for years. “If you won’t, who will?”
I have been called to be a foster mother. I’ve known it since I was a teenager. I knew it the second I realized it would be Caleb whom I married. Caleb…Foster. We ARE the Fosters. We are the Foster home. We are Foster Parents. This is my calling.
This is what I’m meant to do. Maybe it will be awful and I’ll want to quit immediately. Maybe it will be awful and I’ll want another foster placement immediately. I have no idea. But I trust my God – who has this story written before I’ve even finished my application.
I know it seems crazy to start this journey in the middle of chaos. But let me ask you something. When is life ever perfect and tidy? If there is anything I have learned from this season it has been to not put life off to wait on perfection.
So, we begin. This won’t be a quick process. We have chosen to utilize Angels Foster Family Network as the agency who will be our bridge to DHS. There will be plenty of paperwork, hours of training, prayers and lots of tears culminating in this road to being an open foster home. Nevertheless, we begin. We believe that God will provide.
He sets the lonely in families. Psalm 68:6
He qualifies the called.
He commands us to be strong and courageous. Joshua 1:9
He takes good care of His children.
Being Foster Parents Paints the Gospel
And so, because of that great love He has lavishly poured out on our home as His children, we will do our best to take good care of one of His. Because after all, we were once orphans before we met Christ. Right? If you are a follower of Christ then the words of Paul ring true to you: “…remember that at one time you were separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood [sacrifice] of Christ. For He Himself is our peace…” Eph. 2:12-14a
This is a picture of the gospel itself. God seeks out the distant, homeless, hopeless wanderer and gives them home, gives them a family – gives them hope. His sacrifice redeems and reassigns value to that which society deems pointless. Giving foster children a home is giving the love of the gospel; the most powerful force in the universe that has the power to call things that aren’t as though they are.
And so as we journey into the land of the counter-cultural we hope to give these children (whomever they are) more than a home. Our aim is to give them Christ – to give them life.
Have you fostered children before? What was your experience?
Have you considered it? What are your fears?
If you’ve prayed over this issue, and believe fostering isn’t for you, in what other ways have you answered Jesus’ command to care for the orphans?