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)

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