Once in a while you go through things as a foster/adoptive parent that define who you are and why you do what you do. Then there are times you wonder why you put yourself through it at all. Last night was the latter.
About a week after K. came to live with us, we noticed something; he LOVED to go to church. He asks us almost daily, “Do we go to church damarrow?” When we say “yes” gets really excited, his countenance aflame with joy. We found him a small Bible to carry, and he carries it proudly every service. It is really sweet to see. Though he doesn’t yet understand many of the words, he still wants me to read from it each night after we read something on his level.
Sometimes foster children call you all sorts of things. Sometimes they call you Mom and Dad like everything else. This go-round we are Mrs. Tammy and Mr. Parker for reasons unknown to us we acquired those names after about two weeks of being Mom and Dad. It doesn’t matter, but I will say that Mr. Parker has a very sweet sound coming out of the mouth of a tiny five year old.
My wife saw this comment on a post on the Humans of Foster Care Facebook page.
"My 6 year old adopted from foster care asks me when he sees a mom with a baby 'I wonder if she's a safe mommy or if he needs a new family' "
This is the tragedy we walk in every day. These little ones have seen so much and have such a tragic worldview. Consider foster care today. Show them a redeemed world that looks nothing like the one they know. We would love to show you how to get started.
Just over a week ago a new foster placement came to our home. He is five. It feels weird to call a child a “placement,” but that is the term. He is small and lovable. As I stated in last week’s post, each new face brings to mind the heaviness of a world broken since that fateful act of disobedience in the garden. However, from time to time, out of the ashes of abuse and neglect we are privileged … no, blessed and humbled … to see a flower of life and redemption sprout where once there was only desolation.
Our twin boys are very excited. All day long they asked us, "When is he coming? Will he be here for supper?" We had told them we were getting another foster placement. A boy their age, no less.
A little over a year ago we started on the journey to adopt. How we got started was sort of unfair. You see, a couple of families in our church were fostering and Tammy and I had talked about adopting for years, so we were mildly interested. Rewind a few years ... I once had a dream. About 6 years ago, when I was new to our church, I had a group from the Faith Based side of DFPS come to the church. They had discovered, through a study mind you, that children placed with families of faith tended to do better in the long run. (Ya think?)
At any rate, we had the meeting, they came out … Tammy and I were the only ones that showed up. I once had a dream of our church getting on board and providing homes for children who didn’t have them. I guess that wasn’t going to happen. Fast forward a few years ….
These families in our church who were fostering needed help and I remembered this program. We were invited to an “Informational Meeting” for prospective foster / adoptive families in Tyler with one of these families and some other prospective ones. I was there to see what we, as a church, could do to support foster / adoptive families; build beds, collect diapers, you know, real missional type stuff. That’s when it happened.
They. Showed. Us. Pictures. Game. Over.
Pictures of little faces that said to me, “I just want a family”. I had always taken for granted that family was forever and for real. My dad’s parents were married when he died. My mom’s parents are still married and devoted to one another. My dad and mom are still together. We sat around the table and ate dinner at night, they went to my ballgames and supported me in whatever I did. I thought everyone was kind of like that to some degree. I was terribly wrong. Terribly.
These faces longed for what I had taken for granted. The lady doing the meeting asked questions and we talked, but by the end of it, I was asking, “how many can we have?”. I felt anger, sadness, hurt and all of what goes with it. I have watched families in our church foster / adopt and foster again. We, ourselves are finally on the final stages of our first adoptive placement. All along this road we have heard things like, “I just couldn’t do it”, “You guys are awesome and amazing”, or “It would scare me to death” or like the attached article, “I would get too attached”.
I agree with the author of this article when he asserts you and I should stop praying about whether or not we should be involved in orphan care. He’s right. Out of all the things that the Scriptures command and encourage us to do, taking care of orphans is one of the most explicit. To say, “I don’t think God is calling me to orphan ministry” is like saying, “Yeah, that baptism thing, I just don’t know, I am so afraid of water.” Or, “I like widows and all, but I just don’t think caring for them is my thing”.
Another thing happened to us at that meeting … they showed us the statistics. I have updated some of them and shared them here.
According to Focus on the Family, census data from 2012 indicated that over 13,000 children were ready to be adopted. That was almost three years ago. As of August 2014, there are 16,307 kids in foster care … in the state of Texas alone. Yes, in our state. Alone. Over 16,000 kids. Not all of these 16,000 are ready for adoption, as some of them are in the process of being reconciled with their parents, but many are.
While I am not naïve enough to think that every home is a good fit for fostering or adopting, every home who claims to know, love and follow Jesus has a stake in participating in ministry to orphans. That might mean being a foster parent. It might mean being an adoptive parent. It might mean building bunk beds for foster families. It might mean paying to help other families become licensed. It might mean taking CPR, getting a TB test and being respite care for someone who is already fostering and desperately needs a weekend away with their wife. It might mean prayer, it might mean a million things, but one thing it does NOT mean is that you aren’t called to it. In some way, some form, all of us are called to care about the future and well-being of the least of these among us.
Here is my challenge to you if you think God hasn’t “called” you. I challenge you to:
1. Think Biblically about orphan ministry. You might be surprised what you find. (I will let you do the digging)
2. Watch the YouTube video ReMoved
4. Stop praying about it and get involved. Get involved somehow, someway but not someday. Do it now.
Also indicated in the Focus on the Family article, in 2012 there were 27,505 churches in the state of Texas. I did some independent research and found that this number has actually inccreased since then, best I can tell. You do the math. If every congregation in the state of Texas adopted 1 … ONE … child, the statistics drop to ZERO overnight. With room to spare. One. Child. Per. Church.
My intent is to raise awareness that Jesus has called us to something, something big and something special; something close to His heart. We cannot claim to be followers of Jesus and deny the very tenets of what He teaches.
Caring for orphans is:
- Biblical. Period.
- Part of what it means to be a disciple
- Gut wrenching
- Worth every moment
- Rewarding above measure
- Pleasing to the Lord
We honestly can’t wait to meet our hopeful new family member. We also can’t wait to start fostering ourselves after he is settled. I once had a dream that I tried to make come true. God had other plans. I suppose He wanted to build that dream Himself.