The Gutsy Gospel

Fostering
Below is a blog post by my sister, Kara, on fostering. I am so grateful to be able to share her heart and what God is doing in her life! Keep up with her journey here.

Kara and ChadIt was supposed to be the first routine visit with his conservatorship caseworker. Trey came home from work at 1:30 so he could meet the man who would be walking this journey with us.  Chad had been in our home for two weeks at this point, and we had settled into a comfortable routine as a family of four. We were so content and thankful. We had been told by more than one official that Chad would be in our home for at least 6 months, but more likely up to a year.

And then, in the midst of this routine visit, Chad’s caseworker casually tells us that Chad will likely be moved in the next month.

What? I don’t think I heard him right.

But then he repeats himself, and I know it’s true. A fictive (friend of the biological family) kin has come forward and will have a home study this Saturday. The home study will almost undoubtedly be approved, as they have helped with foster children in the past. Chad will be leaving our home.

It was the moment I’d heard about and pretended might never come. But it was reality, and it would undoubtedly come far sooner than I had planned. Our first foster son, who we loved, prayed for, and hoped in our hearts might stay in our home forever, was going to leave us.

When Trey and I first began our journey toward becoming foster parents, many people would say things like, “Oh I admire you for that. I could never do such a thing. I could never give the child back,” or, “I could bring the child into my home but I couldn’t let him go.” I understand such sentiments, and honestly have felt the same way at times. The thought of bringing a broken treasure into your home and making that one a part of your family, only to have to give him or her up eventually, seems impossible.

And let me tell you: it is impossible, out of your own strength and will. But I am writing this post today to counter false beliefs I’ve either held or heard in our journey as foster parents. I am writing this because I want to share what I’ve learned.

It is crucial to note that the Lord has a heart for orphans. Throughout Scripture, the Lord provides careful instruction to His people on our responsibility to care for the fatherless (Exodus 22:22; Isaiah 1:17; Deuteronomy 14:28-30; 26:12-14). God calls Himself the Father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5) and executes justice for them (Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalm 10:14). The people of God will be held responsible for whether or not we care for orphans (Matthew 18:5; 25:45).

Basically, caring for orphans is not optional for the church. It is not optional for individual believers. God has set into motion His church as His physical hands and feet to care for those in the greatest of need. We are without excuse.

Kara and KateFocus on the Family has a chart showing the number of children in foster care that were waiting to be adopted in 2012 for each state. Next to these numbers, they have the number of churches in each state. I am from Texas, and I was appalled to see that churches outnumbered those waiting to be adopted by more than double. In other words, if only one family for every two churches had adopted a child from foster care in 2012, we would have found permanent Christian homes for every child in foster care in the state of Texas for that year. Then, if those two churches (or even one church) could have surrounded that one family with love and support, the body of believers would be truly exercising our calling.

But those numbers are just for adoption of these orphans. There is also the need for those in the system, foster children whose parents are unable for whatever reason to care for them for a season. These children may or may not be reunited with their biological parents; this is yet to be determined. Their lives are in disorder. They only know chaos as a familiar friend.

KateIt is for these children that I am speaking today. My good friend Kim put it so well: we are not told in James 1:27 that pure religion is “to look after orphans and widows…” only if they can stay in your home forever. No. That is not it. We are told to look after orphans and widows in their distress! Future undetermined. No promise of this being their forever home. Get down and get messy, because that is what they need.

The Gospel is that gutsy. It is that raw. As believers, we are not promised easy lives, but we are promised rewarding lives as we follow after Christ. And by rewarding, I don’t necessarily mean in this life. There are eternal rewards that far outweigh the temporary gains that we so often get stuck pursuing (2 Corinthians 4:17).

So back to Chad. He moved in with his new family yesterday. We handed over this precious boy that so quickly gained our hearts’ affections. I washed all his clothes, packed up the letters of his name that we had hung on his bedroom wall, and I handed over my son. But you see, this is the thing: he was never my son. He was the one that God entrusted to our family for a season, and Trey and I loved him and cared for him as our son. But he was never our forever son.

This is the point I hope to get across to the church: this is our calling! I know that not everyone is called to foster, but we are all called to do something. And I promise you, more are called to foster than are doing so. For those of you who doubt you could foster because you think, “I could never give a child back,” you can! If I can do it, you can.

How can I do it? By the power of Christ in me. Does it hurt? Yes. Is it messy? Yes. Did I already have dreams of Chad being the one we would adopt as our son? Of course. But do I trust that God has a plan for my family, for Chad’s life, and for all those details in between? Without a doubt. And last question: Was it worth it?

YES!

Chad came to us not making any cooing noises. They thought he might be deaf, but during the month and half he lived with us and had a family who would hold him, talk to him, and give him attention, he has begun to coo and to catch up on his developmental milestones. He came to us weighing in the 8th percentile for his age, and he grew to be quite a heavy little guy with a consistent, healthy diet. He did not sleep through the night but slept more like a newborn, but with a secure and predictable environment, he became routine, sleeping through the night and taking two naps a day.

Most importantly, Chad heard about God’s love. He may be too young to understand or remember it, but I believe there is power in speaking Truth into someone’s life. We prayed for him, as did our family and our church family. He will forever have prayer warriors he might never meet. Trey and I chose scripture to pray specifically over Chad (Psalm 91:14-16), and we have joy in knowing that his new mom and dad will also be praying these verses over him.

Was it worth it? Absolutely.

We are waiting now for the call. Whenever that next child is in need of a home, they will call us, and all will be set into motion. We will pull out all that baby stuff. We will set out clothes and pull out the bassinet, if needed. The car seat will be loaded in my car. We will text our support group and let our church family know. And we will do it again with joy in our hearts. We will face the sleepless nights. We will hug and love that one who can’t be consoled because their world is in chaos. We will watch our two year old fall in love with another foster sibling, knowing that again she might have to say goodbye.

Because let me tell you a precious nugget that God has shown me: no one has so much love for children that they are off the hook. You cannot tell me, “Oh, I could never give a child back” and think that this means you are with excuse. None of us are with excuse. I could not possibly love a little one more than the Heavenly Father who created that child. And our Heavenly Father, who lavishes His love on His people, expects us to love these little ones. This love is not a verbal one, but a physical and messy love. It is a love that is backed up by action. It is a sacrificial love that does not give up in the face of adversity.

We are all called to do something. Not in our strength can we do it, but we have within our reach the One who gives us new mercies every morning. We have one who is Faithful (Lamentations 3:22-24). And He will supply all our need with His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

Amen.