Thoughts on Foster Care

20 08 2008

“I don’t want to be a foster parent,” I prayed as I got into my car after our first foster parenting class. “I want children to be a permanent part of our lives. I don’t like this temporary parenting idea.” I assured myself that the only reason we were in these classes to begin with was to be able to provide a home for Little Buddy. That was all. And we were going to adopt him anyway, so all that we had learned in the previous three hours had not applied to us. Or had it?

As I drove home, a phrase kept coming to mind, “Plead the cause of the orphan.” I wasn’t sure of its source or its context, but I was knew that was the message for me that night. The next morning I discovered that this message is all throughout the Bible.

“Defend the poor and the fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy.” Ps. 82:3

When we first began our adoption journey, it was from a desire to treasure what is of importance to the kingdom. It was distinctly not about us. We desperately want to be parents and our lives have been touched by loss in this area many times. Yet somehow, despite the pain of the past, we knew this was not about having our desires fulfilled, but instead, meeting the needs of a child.

As we have traveled along, there have been unexpected turns, foster parenting being one of them. I would have never chosen this path for myself. At times, it is the hardest thing I have ever done. Yet how can I describe the incredible joy it has brought to our lives?  To have closed our hearts to the possibility of pain would have been to miss out on this adorable little life God has placed in our home.

I have heard many people say, “Oh, I could never be a foster parent.” And while I agree that fostering and/or adopting is not for everyone, I also question the validity of that statement. The thought behind it says, “I could never expose myself to that kind of pain.” I certainly cannot deny that it is painful, but what I can never get away from is the vast need for these children in trauma to have a safe haven while the system tries to find a permanent placement. These children have lost everyone and everything they know, which is a shock to the system you and I likely have not had to face. The system is flawed, overworked and inefficient, I agree. But the children are stuck with it. So, who will step up to the plate to care for their hearts, while putting their own on the line at the same time?

I would never discourage someone from being a foster/adopt parent merely for the sake of protecting their hearts. Jesus didn’t protect his from those who would betray and crucify him…instead He laid down His life for them. As Christians, He is our example. I do not say this because I feel that everyone reading this should go out and become foster parents. But rather, our approach to whatever path God leads us to should be one of sacrifice. As Americans, we have bought into the mentality that life isn’t supposed to hurt, and therefore we insulate ourselves from anything that could cause us pain.

Difficult? Definitely. Rewarding? Absolutely. Our lives have forever been changed by a course we did not set out for ourselves. As hard as it has been, I am grateful for a new set of eyes with which to see the world around me, learning what it means to, “plead the cause of the orphan.”

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