Wednesday, October 23, 2013

But why did he even have to ask?

This story has been circulating in the news lately and while I’ve listened to heartwarming responses of thousands of families offering to adopt him…I’m caught in a place of tension.  I’m celebrating the fact  that families are stepping up and offering to love this child and invite him into their lives---but I’m mourning the fact that somehow the responsibility to find this kiddo a forever home landed on his own shoulders.

Why, in a country full of riches, large homes, luxury cars, fancy churches & (most importantly) many followers of Jesus…is a child having to beg for a family to adopt him? 

It painfully reminds me of what “is” in our world.  400,000 kids in foster care (from the figures I’ve seen most recently).  Over 100,000 children that are waiting to be adopted. 

Why are more churches not educating their members?  Inviting agencies in and offering up their facilities to train families in the congregation?  Why are we so unaware that it takes a viral story to catch our attention of something going on in our very own neighborhood? 

For a long time I held out my own list of excuses of why I couldn’t foster or adopt.  Some of them quite valid.  But at the heart of it, I just didn’t want to.  It was scary.  And uncomfortable.  And hard.  And what about my kids.  And our house is small.  And we are barely making ends meet. And I wasn’t sure I was “called” to do it, even if Jesus had told me to care for orphans.  And we are already really busy.  And it involved my heart.  And required too much.  That’s my story.

And maybe it’s yours.  And maybe not.

But my heart hurts thinking about those numbers.  400,000.  100,000.

Maybe you really “can’t”.  and I think there are those that really can’t.  but I think more can.  And maybe just need the tools to do so.

So maybe you can’t adopt.  Could you foster long-term?  Maybe you can’t foster long-term.  Could you provide short-term or weekend care occasionally?  Maybe that’s not even an option.  How about becoming educated and searching for ways to do justice in this area & supporting families that are fostering or adopting?  What about actively loving children that are in the system? (Side note: several friends have asked ideas for how to help with foster care, I’ll get a list of a few ways and post my thoughts)

The need is real, folks.  The need is in our own backyards.


Had a few extra moments this afternoon, so here are some simple ways off the top of my head to engage in foster care without "doing foster care", support families that are foster parenting, to love on kiddos, etc.  Again, these are just a FEW ideas...

Ways to engage:

1.       Offer your church facility up as a place for an agency to hold trainings.  Encourage members to attend.

2.       “Adopt” a child in foster care for Christmas—local agencies here do this.  While foster care parents receive reimbursement for basic needs, it doesn’t always cover that, nor leave lots of room for buying presents.

3.       Have a special talent (photography, tutoring,, music lessons,  sewing?)  Offer to use your talent.  Call an agency and tell them you’d like to offer free photos for kids in foster care families.  Senior photos,

4.       Donate.  Have an extra carseat?  Sheets?  Toddler bed? Clothing? All of these items have been gifted to us from sweet friends to help love the kids in our home. Thrift stores are great places to donate, but you can meet the need yourself!

5.       Donate school supplies

6.       Connect with local shelters for kiddos.  Find out if they have needs or ways that you can mentor kids that are there. 

7.       Love the foster children of people in your church. Don’t treat them any differently. Our church has welcomed our special friends without missing a beat. 

8.       Contact local agencies and donate household items to kids aging out of foster care.

9.       Become a court-appointed advocate or educational advocate

10.   Take meals to a family that has just welcomed in new kiddos (this one goes out to my friends that bring home babies from the hospital without a heads up!)

11.   Purchase gift cards to donate to foster care families---for unexpected needs, clothing or just so a large family can do an activity together (bowling, movies, etc).  These can be donated to agency to disperse as needed.

12.   Connect with existing ministries (there is a local church that does a LOT to support foster families)—like donating to their “welcome bags”

13.   Offer to babysit

14.   Pay for experiences for kids in foster care (summer camp, baseball, etc)

15.   Know a family that is fostering kiddos?  Pray for them.  Ask them how it’s going and take the time to really listen.  (I had a friend do this and I was so blessed by just being able to share with her)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

empty beds

“beds available”


“empty beds”

I have heard all three terms used to imply when a foster care home has space available to take in kiddos.

We stood in the doorway and stared down two empty toddler beds sitting in our home.  We had said goodbye earlier in the evening to our latest friends that had stayed with us for the past eleven days. 

The text came on a Friday evening.  Two kiddos.  Two little kiddos.  That night.  Long-term (as far as anyone could tell)

I had so been looking forward to the weekend. I was in the middle of re-organizing my daughter’s clothes/bedroom and I was quite comfortable saying “no” to our worker….especially to long-term placements in our current season of life.   But that night, neither my husband nor I felt like “no” was the right answer….We told Lucy what was happening and we prayed for our new friends.  We asked that God would help them feel comfortable in our home and that we would be kind and know how to love them well….and be able to share our toys with lots of grace.  J

An hour later I was loading two new friends into the back of my minivan.

“Letter Factory” entertained them while we made the trip back “home.”

Life was busy, or at least busier, for the ten days they were here.  But it was also fun.   We had 5 kids 4 and under running through our home.  We had two new friends that were sweet…and smart…and adorable.  We were exhausted, but we were thankful.  Not thankful for the circumstances that led them to our home, but thankful that God had asked us to say “yes”…and thankful that we did.

As I’ve mentioned before, people ask “what about your kids??”  And sometimes I worry when we have extra kiddos that our biological children somehow suffer as a result…but after the last week and a half, I realize that’s simply not true.  My kids are learning to love others in a way I struggle to understand even as an adult.  When bedtime arrived the first night, Lucy ran upstairs and brought down her two favorite nightgowns and let her new friend choose first…a process that would repeat itself every day when we got dressed and every night before bed.  A girl who LOVES her dresses and can sometimes be overly protective of her possessions was willingly offering up her favorite “fancy dresses.”  She was giving them her best. 

We knew a few days in that it wouldn’t be long term and that there were wonderful relatives that would take them long-term (always the best outcome).  Yesterday we got the “official” word.  We packed up their belongings and took some pictures.  And then we told Lucy.  I was not prepared for her response.  We’ve had other friends in our home and said goodbye to them.  But her little heart did not understand and MY heart broke for her.  I cried with her and empathized with her.  “Mommy’s sad, too.  I’m going to miss them so much, too.”  We did the best we could to explain & we took our new friends to their relative’s home. 

As we pulled away, Lucy said something that just made my heart dance---

“Mommy, I’m so happy for them.”

Me too, sweet girl, me too.