People ask us why we foster and I've often said it's a calling. I'm not sure that's true. I'm not sure we're called specifically to foster children, but I know ALL believers are called to be obedient.
The Bible is filled with commands. "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19-20. Does this mean every one of us is supposed to be a foreign missionary? No, but we are supposed to be making disciples.
Here's the verse that spoke to us when we started our journey. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" James 1:27. If this command is for all believers what does it look like in your life?
On one hand I can't expect everyone to become a foster parent. On the other hand when I see the statistics and I hear the stories of the children who they can't find placements for I want to scream and beg and plead. Every week UMCH is turning away placements. They only get called when DFCS can't find one of their own homes. Last week they had a call for a 6 month old and 16 month siblings. They were put in a receiving home, which is a temporary placement. After a few days of not being able to find a placement, they were then willing to separate them in order to find them a home. This is only 1 of tons of stories each week of children they can't find homes for.
I want to answer a few reasons I've heard why people can't foster:
I'm too old - We've met some amazing retired people who are still fostering. They even foster newborns. It blows me away.
I'm single - Again, we've met amazing people who are doing this on their own. I know it has to be hard, but they are doing it.
I have small children of my own - So do quite a few of our friends who are fostering. They're awesome. Amazing lessons they are teaching their children of selflessness.
My house is too small - Right now we have 7 people living in a 3 bedroom house. It's not ideal, but it's doable.
I can't afford it - We rarely, if ever, come out of pocket for our kids. If we do it's because we've chosen to do something special. We receive a per diem for their care which is sufficient. They have a clothing allowance that is adequate if you shop smart. Fostering with UMCH we have an additional monthly allowance that we can turn in receipts for extras like diapers, school events, or any other non food item. Most of the children receive WIC, so we don't pay for formula, which can be expensive.
I don't like children - Have you met my husband? Like he says, you don't have to like children to love them.
I'd get too attached - Then you'd be perfect! These children deserve someone who will love them and get attached. They deserve someone who is willing to be hurt in order to give them a safe place for a little while.
It's too hard/complicated - Sometimes it is. Most things worthwhile are.
I like my freedom - Luke 9:23-24 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."
The need is great. It's greater than great. There are over 8,000 children in foster care in GA right now. In 2012 there were over 1,600 ready to be adopted out of foster care. In 2012 there were over 14,000 churches in Georgia. I'll let you do the math. In 2012 over 23,000 children nationwide aged out of the system. On their own with no support system. You can imagine the statistics that await them. They aren't pretty.
Please consider what your role is. What does obedience look like in your life?
1 John 3:16-18 16By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
"Having heard all of this you may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know." -William Wilberforce
Here's the link to see the number of children waiting to be adopted from foster care vs. number of churches state by state. http://icareaboutorphans.org/consideringadoption/waitingkidsinyourstate/.
Here's the link with the statistics for the kids who age out of the foster care system. http://www.childrensrights.org/issues-resources/foster-care/facts-about-aging-out/