Ramblings on Foster Care…

We talk to folks a lot.  Many people we chat with would LOVE to become foster parents to stand in the gap with the thousands in foster care. Statistically speaking; this is absolutely a solvable problem if ONLY church-goers engaged. Consider the facts:

Here are the numbers:

  • Children in foster care in the U.S.:  415000*
  • Number of children in NJ Foster Care: 7025*
  • Number of children in NY Foster Care: 23,031*
  • Number of children in PA Foster Care: 14,766*
  • Number of churches in NJ 6713, NY 14,767 , PA 15,539*

It is estimated there are over 450,000 churches in the United States. This means that if one child were taken into a foster family in each church; the domestic orphan crisis would essentially end. Here however is the problem:

I would love to foster; I just don’t want to work with the State 

I didn’t either.  I had a friend whose children were badly hurt by a false report; subsequent removal and ultimate death of one of her children.  Nobody didn’t want to work with DCPP more than my husband and me. The truth is, by and large the folks we have encountered are genuine and caring human beings. They aren’t out to ‘get’ you and they need our help.  There are frustrations felt on both sides.  The Church doesn’t want folks coming in and telling us how to parent and the State knows the Church has been commanded to look after the orphan…and if we did… their jobs would be a whole lot easier.

I would foster; but I couldn’t give them back

This is the hard part. But the reality is that no children in our care are truly ours.  If we believe that children are a blessing from the Lord, then we trust in God’s plans for their lives.  We are simply stewarding precious souls on behalf of our heavenly Father. Each moment with them is a gift.  God gives and takes away.

I would foster, but it just isn’t for me

Then who do you think it is for? Who has been better equipped for healing, restoration, forgiveness, sacrifice and love than God’s people? If we are to live like Christ, healing restoration, forgiveness, sacrifice and love are all a part of the family business. If not us then who? If a child came to your doorstep in need of help, would you turn them away? This is just a way of identifying which doorsteps that God’s love can walk through. It doesn’t take magical powers or super-special Christian mojo; it takes patience, willingness, a little abandon and Jesus.

I would foster, but I am afraid because I spank my kids

Jim and I have spanked our children.  However, on reflection, we have shifted our views on this.The State of New Jersey is not in the business of telling you that you can’t spank your biological children. That said, kids in foster care are never to be spanked. Any child who has been abused and traumatized isn’t really going to respond to corporal punishment; you are likely re-traumatizing them and that isn’t discipline. We have all blown it. But there is a better way to parent kids who have had tough starts.  There is a ton of information out there about better ways to correct your children. It starts with healing and connection. Most child experts say spanking is not an effective form of discipline. But no matter where you land on this issue, you do not have to be worried about becoming licensed to foster parent if you spank your children.

I would foster, but I am too old, (busy, poor, young…)

The commitment is as limited or as broad as you make it.  Respite, foster or foster-adopt are all ways to engage from a few hours to a life-long adoption. Folks are needed to act as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), which only takes a few hours a week. We are all busy…have you noticed that? But DCPP helps to make arrangements for the kids in their care. They provide insurance, specialists, day care and resources for all kinds of needs.  They also provide a monthly stipend to offset the expense of having an extra face to feed.

I would foster, but [insert reason here]

We all make excuses.  My husband and I did.  We had all kinds of walls and barriers to engaging in foster care.  Each time we made a small statement like, “I will foster when…or…if happens”, that thing would happen. I blogged about my personal reluctance here.  We finally had to concede that either we needed to stop making excuses or jump in.  It hasn’t all been good, but it has been a far better process than expected.

Jesus said, Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Do we trust Him in this? Can we take the yoke of foster children upon us and find rest for our souls? There is a simple complexity in all of this. God has commanded His people to look after the orphan (James 1:27). He has also said if we see someone in need and have the means to help that we should do something (1 John 3:17).  I am not saying what that something is; I am simply saying each of us should ask God what that something is and when we figure it out we should do it with all of our hearts! Finally, Jesus said that when we make plans we should count the cost (Luke 14:28-33). Because He has shown us what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8). 

See the problem.  Be moved to compassion. Take Action. Any questions?

Rant over.

edited from the original blog post in 2015

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