The Call to Foster
We are all called to foster care.
Let’s take a moment and define the word “calling”. I often hear this word used in relation to foster care when foster or adoptive parents are discussing their journey. A calling is quite simply- acting in obedience and purpose. It is about doing the very thing that God has designed for you to do. So what does the Bible say about foster care (caring for orphans)?
Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.-Psalm 82:3
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed, but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?
Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.-Isaiah 1:17
As I read through these verses, the question becomes clearer for me. It’s not a question of “if” I am called to help children in foster care- but instead it is a question of “how”.
Not everyone is called to be a foster parent. Not everyone’s supposed to adopt. But there are many other ways to support foster families , foster care agencies, or come alongside children in care in your own community.
1. Become a Respite Care Provider
If you have a heart for foster children but are not in a position to do it full time, you can become licensed to be a respite provider. Respite providers care for foster children for short periods of time when foster families need a short break to recharge (caring for vulnerable children requires good self-care), the can serve as a temporary placement when a foster family cannot be found, and they even can become a regular part of a foster child’s life. During my time as a case worker, I had several respite providers that would provide respite care for several of the foster families on my case load on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. The children grew very attached to these families and always looked forward to their weekend or night stay with them. As a respite provider, you provide an invaluable gift to foster parents and foster children- with the flexibility to determine when you are available and for how long.
2. Donate to Foster Care Organizations
There are so many organizations out there that support children in care. Some of the things these organizations provide: Christmas presents, clothing, prom and homecoming attire, etc. Some organizations to consider giving to:
One Simple Wish believes every child deserves love, hope, and joy. How it works-children share their simple wishes and needs, One Simple Wish posts them, people like you grant them using their online platform. One Simple Wish believes when a child’s wish comes true, not only do they have a chance to just be kids, but they can also make important connections, experience new things and find their passion!
Ambassadors for Children’s (AFC) mission is to help all local children in foster care feel valued and needed by providing physical items and support that will, in turn, boost their self-esteem. AFC provides services such as their clothing closet and prom closet where local children in care can come to receive clothing and attire for prom and homecoming. They also have a program called, Project Self-Esteem, that fulfills special needs for children in care such as sports expenses, music lesson, and other activities.
3. Mentor Older Foster Youth
There are several ways you can get connected with a foster youth- through state agencies, local organizations, or Big Brothers Big Sisters. Mentoring can be a valuable way to impact the life of a child in care. There are so many older youth who end up in residential facilities or find themselves bouncing from placement to placement simply because of their age and the fact that there is nowhere for them to go. Our son, Ethan, had been in 20+ placements before he came to us and he was only 13 at that time. A lot of times, these older youth have no one. The relationship you form with a youth in care through mentoring is an incredible opportunity to show love and care to someone who may not have anyone else in their life who is consistent.
Foster care is hard. No matter what perspective you look at it from, foster care is not easy. As believers, we have access to the Father, the Healer at all times. No one loves these children more than our heavenly Father. Pray for children in foster care. Pray for biological parents. Pray for foster parents. Pray for adoptive Parents. Pray for case workers, therapists, attorneys, and judges. Prayer is a powerful thing. It is also free.
5. Check in on Foster Families
Trauma is real. Oftentimes, children in care have experienced and/or witnessed things we could not even imagine. The journey can be difficult. Foster and adoptive families need their family and friends to check on them. While every day may not be a hard day, when that day comes, they will need you- we will need you.
6. Babysit for a Foster Family
The journey of foster care and adoption is crazy. In addition to caring for vulnerable children, weeks are spent in team meetings, court hearings, counseling, and sibling/family visits. It can get overwhelming at times. It is because of people who are willing to care for foster children for short periods of time that make it possible for those of us who are able to care for them full time.
7. Become a Court Appointed Volunteer
Court appointed volunteers ensure that a child’s needs are being met while in foster care and advocate for permanency on behalf of a child. Each state has different programs for child advocates. In Missouri, we have CASA- Court Appointed Special Advocates. Court appointed volunteers visit their children at least once a month, attend court and Family Support Team meetings, and visit with people who know the child. As a volunteer you may be asked to submit court reports and attend court hearings to help inform the court about a child’s wishes and well-being. As a court appointed volunteer, you have the opportunity to form a special bond with children in care by creating a relationship of consistency, trust, and communication.
8. Become a Foster or Adoptive Parent
You can make the decision to welcome vulnerable children into your home. In my early twenties, when I became exposed to the world of foster care, and the staggering number of children in need of families, it was something I just could not turn away from. When I heard the stories of children, just like yours and mine, who had been hurt, neglected, hungry, molested, beat, or ignored- it was like a punch to the gut. The statistics for the futures of children in care are daunting: jail, homelessness, pregnancy, continuing the cycle of abuse and neglect. But even with all of those heartbreaking realities, what is also true- they are God’s children. Our heavenly Father created them, values them, loves, them, and has a plan for their life. Just like me, just like you, just like our own children.
How do you support foster families and children in your community? I’d love for you to share below. If you have any questions about how to get involved you can fill out our contact form or reach out to your local foster agencies.