All lives matter. We proclaim such in different ways, but the gospel always reminds us that every person on earth is made in God’s image and is inherently valuable. The question is, how do we communicate that all lives matter? What do we say and do to show the value of the people whom society has intentionally or unintentionally marked as “not valuable?” Indeed, we all affirm that all lives matter: the elderly, the young, the unborn, the rich, the poor and even … the children living within our foster care system. I want to spend a few moments talking with you about these foster children and how we can show that their lives most certainly matter to God and to us in Christ.
Christ-followers are mandated by God to care for and love all lives as we live. We can’t do everything, but we can do some things. How we do choose to love God and others in this world remains a challenging and humbling task. Recently, we have sought to love God and others in our outrage against abortion and Planned Parenthood’s selling of body parts. These precious unborn lives matter, and we must help defend them with our voices in many different ways. However, I can’t help but notice the lack of voices for the children that are living today in the social services system (DSS): foster kids. These precious lives also matter to God and should matter to us. The children in the foster care system are orphans in need of genuine care. While we are urging people to end the murder of unborn children, we also need to speak for the foster system kids. At times, however, we seem to be silent on the treatment of these children. That’s why I am writing today. These precious children in the foster system are also a part of God’s plan, and we must become their voice. We must translate our despair over outrageous situations into love, especially in those places where we can help. We can’t do everything, but perhaps we can do some things because these young people long for a stable family and have a need to be a part of God’s family. It may be that we can help … even now. But, how can we care for these children?
First, pray. It starts with at least asking God about what your family’s role might be. Then, you may get involved by becoming a licensed foster family. It may also be that you need to adopt a child, while some may be limited for legitimate reasons to supporting a family called to adopt or to foster. Fostering and adopting are not easy tasks, and there are hurdles to overcome to become the forever family a child needs. However, our Lord promises to give us help and the strength to carry out His work. Obeying God is never easy, so why should such tragic situations be any different?
One hurdle we all face in reaching out to help foster children is the DSS system itself. It is true that the DSS system is flawed, broken, slow, and hard to work with; but isn’t the life of a child worth the effort? If we know that God wants us to care for them, then surely these lives are worth the struggle, whether in prayer, fostering, adopting or supporting.
I personally know four families working with DSS to foster or adopt children. Each family has different needs and issues to address, but their motives are all the same: Christians looking to make a difference in a child’s life. I have watched, prayed, and rejoiced with these families for their children. They see the problems with the DSS system, and they are raising their voices to help draw attention to these issues. And because of these voices, a few small changes have happened. Children have been adopted, and a sweet girl was taken from a group home to live with her brother in a loving foster family’s home.
These things are wonderful and an answer to prayer, but there is more that needs to be done. I can only imagine what would happen if there were 1,000 new Christian families raising the same concerns and asking the same questions? What changes could be made to the system? Perhaps, many changes would come. Perhaps, the struggles would stay the same. Either way, love would be shown, even if in our tears. It’s easy for a crowd to shout, but to weep, pray, adopt, foster and support foster kids bring a different kind of “shouting” into play. It is a shouting of love that contrasts with the world’s rules of life. What if a crowd of Christians shouted out in word or deed for the protection and love of foster kids? What if we did and said the things we know must be said and done to love and to help? What if we loved God and others in such a way that these children found the homes that they needed? Only God knows.
If you are interested in adopting one of the 600 children in South Carolina that are waiting for forever homes or want to foster one (or two) children that are in the foster care system, then www.heartfeltcalling.org can help. This organization is willing and able to help and support you through the challenges and process of becoming a licensed foster family. Do not be disheartened by the challenges or hurdles; our God is a great big God and can handle any situation that may arise. As Scripture reminds us in Galatians 6:9 “Let us not be weary in doing good” or Isaiah 40:31 “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary.” Let us not grow weary in our effort to help the children and the families that love the children.