Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thankful 3 - Foster Care

I was so saddened recently after talking to two beautiful young ladies - sisters that had aged out of the foster care system when they were 18. They are now in their early 20s and struggling. One has a 5 and a 2 year old and the other has a 2 year old and is expecting again in a few months. She said she wanted and planned to give her first daughter up for adoption when she was born, but was too scared about the kind of family she would end up in. She is speaking from experience. She was in many foster homes, and none of them were good. And she wasn't defining "good" as designer clothes and beautiful homes or getting to stay up late. She was defining it as loving, caring, or simply safe. In her experience in foster care, she was molested several times, forced to stay in a basement for long periods of time, and generally not cared for or loved in the least. She ran away many times and would get caught and put back into another home that was just as bad as the others. When she turned 18, she was left at a park in North Tulsa by her caseworker and wished luck.

It brought tears to my eyes and heart when she said that if she had been in a foster home like ours, she would have been different now. Ours isn't anything spectacular, people. I can promise you that. We are normal people, who live comfortably but not extravagantly. We fight and yell and have bad days and our kids have logged more hours in time out than they would care to admit.

The difference is Jesus. We love Jesus more than anything else and even when we are fighting and fussing, we are quickly brought back around by His gentle hand and reminded of His love. He loves us. We know that. We have felt that. So we can in turn love others. These girls have not experienced His love (or any love) so don't have any love to share.

Mark 9:36-37 says, "He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 'Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.'"

Jesus was hanging out at a house in Capernaum with his 12 disciples and talking to them when He said this. Can you imagine being that little child that Jesus took into his arms? How safe he must have felt to be held by the Son of God? Wow.

We want each child that comes into our home to feel that safe. The reality is that all foster homes aren't like this. That makes me totally sick to think about. I have many friends and have met more recently who are fostering and are doing it for the children. Doing it to show Jesus love "to the least of these."

We need more families like this! We need the church to step up and take care of the children! If we did, there wouldn't be enough children left for those foster families that are in this for the wrong reason to get any more kids.

All over the news are people using foster care as a source of income. Filling their home with children, then using the money the state gives the kids on themselves while depriving the kids of their basic rights and needs. That same lady I was talking about said she had been in homes where the foster parents sought out teen girls so they would do all the cooking and cleaning and everything. We are past the slave era, guys...or so I thought. This boggles my mind. A friend who is also a foster parent texted the other day, after cleaning poop up off the floor from her way-too-old-to-be-pooping-on-the-floor foster daughter, "I can think of easier ways to make $.56 an hour!"

So, church, what are you going to do? Yes, it is hard (heck, I had to stop during that last paragraph to change a poopy diaper!). Yes, it is tiring (I so miss sleeping in). Yes, it "takes away" from our family time. Yes, the "system" is frustrating.  Yes, it is going to be hard to "give them back" (no need to bring that up every time we see you...even my doctor told me that this week. Gee, thanks...I hadn't thought of that!). But on the flip side...Yes, it is teaching our kids and ourselves how to love selflessly. Yes, it is teaching us to pray fervently. Yes, it's teaching is to stop being so judgmental. Yes, it is so stinking much fun to have a little kiddo think you hung the moon and follow you around and repeat everything you say and laugh like you are the funniest thing ever.Yes, it is so precious to have a little one fall asleep in your arms and know he feels safe enough to fall asleep in a matter of minutes.

I get that not everyone can have kids in their homes. But some of you that don't could. ;)  There are so many other ways to help though. These young lady's needed guidance...a mentor. Could you volunteer at the local shelter and just hang out with the kids that are too old for people to choose them to live in their homes but too young to be left a park and wished well? Could you go up and rock babies (that aren't supposed to even be at a shelter per a new state law but the lack of foster homes forces them to keep them there so they are at least safe) or read to kids or help with homework? Could you offer to babysit a foster child so a foster family could to out to eat with their own family (not a chance we would take this little dude out to eat or to a movie - did I mention that he's so loud!)? Could you cook a meal for a foster family once a month to let them know they aren't forgotten? Could you commit to pray for more good, Christian homes for these kiddos?

I am so blessed with awesome friends that when they hear of a kiddo in our home, immediately start messaging, "How can we help?" They have showered us with clothes, toys, books, a stroller, sippy cups, a car seat, diapers, etc, etc. One sweet friend today offered to bring little dude some train tracks and trains since he is slightly obsessed with trains. What a blessing! He will be thrilled and we might get through science uninterrupted for a change while he plays with his "new" toys. YAY! Another friend is going to give up her afternoon to sit with me while I supervise a parent visit this week so I don't have to sit there alone. That's doing some love right there!

One last thought...I know it's hard to remember, but it isn't the kids fault they are in this situation. They aren't bad kids. Someone posted something recently on facebook on a foster care page that asked if you would be willing to take kids out of your age preference if you knew they were good kids. Guys, they are all good kids. They were born into is not a lifestyle they chose. Most have had poor parenting, abuse, neglect, etc. They didn't wake up one day and decide to be "bad" today. They didn't have the upbringing your kids had. Didn't have the boundaries, love, care, safety of your kids.{Update - read the comments for more on this and what I meant here. Anonymous had a great response. I should have clarified this more.Thank you!}

So today, I'm thankful for foster care. (looong post to get to that point, huh?) If there was no one to take these little ones, what would happen? If there aren't GOOD homes to take the kids, where will they go? It breaks my heart to think of these ungodly foster homes abusing these fragile kids. I'm thankful that God has led us to love in this way. This will change our family long after each kid is gone. If not us than who?

If you are interested in fostering or adopting, I would love to talk to you more. I don't have even 1/2 the answers, but I can point you in the right direction and would love to pray for your decision.


  1. Really awesome post!! Makes me cry to think of these young girls being left in a park... What are these social workers thinking ??? Dad and I are so proud of your family for taking in these precious little ones to love them like Jesus loves them and to show them what LOVE looks like.. you are making a difference in their lives..... hugs...

  2. Nicely said. I think the reason the question was posed, "Would you take older foster children if you knew they were good kids?" Is because older foster cchildren often have a label of being "institutionalized" within our messed up system. There are foster homes like mine, whose kiddos range in age from 7 months to 9 years....and I feel called to help teens but I DO need to know that I could handle behavior coming my way (I wouldn't be doing the teen, my bio-kids, or my precious foster kiddos any service if I couldn't). They are NOT all good kids -- these kids have experienced attrocities that NO one should ever endure, let alone a child. They certainly can become good kids with love, stability, guidance, counseling, etc. I so agree with your message but want to see God's call fulfilled with QUALITY (and prepared) foster homes. I've seen so many homes quit because the reality of raising damaged kids was that it can be HARD (and they were led to believe that love would be enough when in reality, His love is always enough but ours needs to be augmented with therapy, consistency, discipline, etc.). I pray that there comes a day where every child has a home and more importantly, I pray that the need for foster care goes away. I pray for quality, prepared that will not.turn their back when a child smears feces all over your walls, curses out you and your young children, and places needles in a bath rug to hurt their foster parent)....and all of those things have happpened to people I know in Tulsa (the first two in my home) with children under age 11. It is NOT the child's fault.but I get so tired of seeing foster families quit becuase they had no idea how difficult standing in the gap could really be. He iS calling us all to help and He will prepare us as well and while it's our job to support new foster parents and help them lean on us, it is also our job to help them understand that this job is that they don't quit when the going gets tough (and it will). We have had 30 kids come through our door and have adopted one and are in the process of another. Fostering is so near and dear to my heart that I want to see quality Christians COME forward and STAY forward....we have to break down some stigmas but not ignore the fact that those stigmas may bear some truth. I want those bad homes gone we must prepare the good homes with truth and a healthy dose of Hope. I, too, am thankful for foster care and good homes like yours. Keep up the good work, sister. My sincerest wish is that I never hear another person say they wish their foster home was like mine (I've heard it too)....they should all be a home that a child would find to be a safe harbor with love, warmth, and a tad bit of crazy sprinkled in :-)

    1. You are right and WOW! I appreciate your family staying the course. I didn't mean to nitpick words there. It has always bugged me when people called kids bad. Their behaviors , however, sometimes truly suck! Their actions and attitude can be atrocious, but maybe it goes back to my days of teaching special ed that I hate labels. lol. I do get it though. We won't take older kids that we don't know because of some of these behaviors and the need to protect our little ones. I think volunteering at the shelter multiple times and getting to know the kids is so wise. You can see if they will fit in your family and you are prepared to deal with their issues before bringing them into your home. I so appreciate you taking time to read and reply. I respect your opinion as someone who has been in this much longer than I have! I'm still new and semi rose-colored glasses. ;) Have a wonderful day!!


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