Foster care. Those two words can bring with them a whole host of images into your head…nouns that carry with them a litany of negative connotations. And with them may come a resistant heart at the thought of your family doing that. Of stepping into a place that is so desperate for people to step in. It’s understandable, this hesitancy of getting involved with a system that has historically held a stigma (whether that has to do with corrupt foster parents, unruly kids, or jaded social workers). The only way a stigma can be removed is if we reframe the actual concept. What if we looked at it as a verb?
Fostering CARE…this is an idea that many of us jump at. Yes! I can do that! I can do something to cultivate an environment of care for a child who needs it. This month, The Sublime Soree has looked at the ways you can invite people into your home and life. This is the very heart of Foster Care. It’s simply an opening of your life, as described in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8:
“But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”
We tend to overcomplicate it. So many questions about when and how and who. We feel God tug our hearts with compassion, but then we are quickly bombarded with a thousand reasons why now is not the time, our home isn’t the place, or we are not the people. Friends, I urge you to quiet all those thoughts swirling in your head and simply ask Jesus, “What do you want me to do next?” He will show you.
Fostering care may not mean that you become a foster parent. It may not mean that you have children in your home for short overnight stays to provide respite for their caregivers. It may not mean that you bring families a meal who have just taken placement of a child. It may not mean that you cut grass and bring groceries and drop off clothes that your own child has recently outgrown. BUT IT COULD.
Fostering care is all of these things and more. And you were uniquely designed to fill a role that exists in the foster care system. No thing is too small. Above all, please PRAY. Child welfare is a system of intense hurt, darkness, and confusion. The spiritual attacks are many on all who are involved. Jesus warns us that the thief comes to steal and destroy…which is exactly what is happening as families are torn apart because of drugs, abuse, neglect, and violence. But He is the Good Shepherd and has come that there may be life and that they may have it abundantly (John 10:10).
Isaiah paints a beautiful picture of how the Shepherd cares for his children: “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs (children) in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young (parents).” Isaiah 40:11. Jesus is already doing the work of rescuing these children and restoring these families. He invites you to join Him. And He has a specific role that you could fill. Just ask HIM…
Here are some practical next steps:
Read a book to open your eyes to a system that you may know little about:
- Another Place at the Table by Kathy Harrison
- Three LIttle Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter
- The Middle Mom: How to Grow Your Heart by Giving it Away by Christie Erwin
- Honestly Adoption: Answers to 101 Questions About Adoption and Foster Care by Mike and Kristin Berry
- Reframing Foster Care: Filtering Your Foster Parenting Journey Through the Lens of
the Gospel by Jason Johnson
- –Replanted: Faith Based Support For Adoptive and Foster Families by Jenn and Joshua Hook and Mike Berry
Check out these Ministries (Podcasts, Facebook/Instagram posts):
- Foster The Family
- Honestly Adoption
- The Forgotten Initiative
Talk to a Foster Family! Email me here: Heloveswell@gmail.com and I can connect you with some!
Ask what your church is doing to support Foster Families and join in.
Donate clothing and toys to a local foster care support group. In Northeast Ohio, you can do that at The Foster Care Closet at Grace Church, Norton Campus (connect here thru Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GraceChurchFosterCareCloset )
Ready to take a step towards becoming a Foster Parent? These local agencies are in need of Foster Families RIGHT NOW!
- Summit County Children’s Services https://www.summitkids.org/Child-Services/Foster-Care
- Stark County Children’s Services https://www.starkjfs.org/children-services-division/become-a-foster-adoptive-parent
- Caring For Kids https://cfkadopt.org/foster-parents/
- Bair Foundation https://www.bair.org/services/foster-care/
- Pathway Caring For Children https://www.pathwaycfc.org/foster-at-pathway
It truly is a team effort. Thanks for even reading this far and considering what part God may want you to play. Thank you for asking Him and letting Him lead you.
— Emilie Oxley © May 22, 2021
Emilie Oxley is a wife and mom to four kiddos through birth, adoption and foster care. She is passionate about supporting women as they pursue Jesus’s design for and call on their lives and encouraging families to live with open arms.