Bringing the Need of Foster Care to the Church

Back in the Spring of 2019, following our Weekend for a Lifetime foster care training, there was a lot of waiting and paperwork that had to be completed before we officially became a licensed home. We had to complete a 54-page profile detailing everything from our family lineage to how we show affection in our house. Since much of our packet was a discussion of our faith, when our licensing social worker came to visit we had a tangential conversation about our church. We talked about our faith stories — I, growing up Catholic, and Rachel, growing up in a vibrant Christian community similar to that of our current chapel. We talked about our engagement with the Youth Group, and how we, at the time, were volunteering with the children’s ministry every once and awhile. At some point during the interview it switched from being more about our own story, to one where we got to learn about our her faith story. She had been searching for a church in the area to call her own. We connected on how difficult it can be to find a church that feels like home. Easter was fast approaching, so we had a few flyers around the house. After a lengthy conversation, we passed her the flyer and we were hopeful she would consider attending our chapel in the future.

On her next visit to our house, and ultimately the final visit of our home study, we talked more about our faith, and we were happy to hear that she had been attending services. She told us how she met the Associate Pastor after their first in person service, and followed that meeting with a dinner with him and their families. Their children started to attend the church, and it quickly became their new home — exactly what she had mentioned they were seeking. As we planned for a very busy summer, we reached out to check in on the timeline of when we should expect to be licensed, but the most important part of the email was her response about attending church: “we love the church! Thank you both so much for helping us find our home!”

That is the true power of testimony. It is moments like this where we so clearly see how God is using the ministry of foster care and our life to bring others closer to the needs of His Kingdom.

This past weekend, a year and half after these initial exchanges, our church invited us on stage to talk about foster care and introduce the church to the need and our personal experience. Here is our interview and below the video are our prepared remarks:

Prepared Responses

Q: Did you have any major hesitations when thinking about doing foster care?

Becoming a foster parent was something that was on Rachel’s heart for many years. For me, it was something I needed to prayerfully consider. My biggest hesitation, and I think something that might resonate with others, is just the fear of the unknown. I wasn’t sure what it would look like or how prepared we would be to take on this huge responsibility. We had similar hesitations to that of biological parents — “are we ready? qualified? prepared?” And, as I am sure all parents can attest to, answers to those questions are probably somewhere between “not really” and “I sure hope so!” It’s easy to have a hesitation based on how society portrays it. Foster care is not happening because everything is going right, it’s happening because there was a breakdown somewhere. I am a feeler and I knew that I would absolutely get attached to any kid that entered our home. It’s safe to say that I have, and I am perfectly okay with that. That gave us hesitation initially but we just chose to look at that differently. Our potential to get attached was a sign that we would be able to care and love the children that needed us.

Q: What’s something God has taught you through fostering?

It’s unbelievable the lessons we’ve learned in our short time as foster parents, and I’m sure the more experienced foster parents could sit you down for a while too. In reality, at the end of every day, we could look at how the day unfolded, and truly see the hand of God so clearly in so many situations. But one of the biggest things God is continuing to teach me through foster care is about control. God has brought me to my knees in this area.

In foster care, it usually feels like there is very little you can control. There are dozens of people behind the scenes making decisions about and for the kids and your family, with very little you can do about it. We live our lives in a constant state of “maybe”. Some days, that can be extremely challenging, and all any of us want is stability, control and answers.

Often, as humans we find comfort in control, but God didn’t create us to be comfortable on this Earth. We’ve had to learn to focus on what we can control, and let go of the things we can’t. We’ve had to rely on the adage to “let go, and let God”. While we might not be able to control a lot of things, we can control that any kid who walks through our door — whether they are with us for one night or one year — is going to be wrapped in a whole lot of love and a whole lot of Jesus. We’ve learned that other than that, we don’t really need to have control, because that’s God’s job.

Q: What would you say to someone on the fence (or has doubts) about whether they can do this?

Make sure your doubts are rooted in reality. Second, start talking about it with other people — normalize it. Third, know that what we do as foster parents is no more unique or special than the way other people in this church serve. We are “regular” parents that mess up just like everyone else. We don’t have a superpower. This is just how we choose to serve God and live our life. So, if you are thinking about it, it probably means that you should talk and pray about it. Also, just know this, at the end of the day we are talking about God’s children. Fostering has many hurdles, frustrations, and legal jargon, but it’s also full of love, joy, fun, and silliness. Don’t let your image of one part of it crowd out the whole picture.

The message of the gospel is one that all kids need to hear, and if we don’t help them hear it, who is going to? In our experience, we’ve seen the message of Jesus’ redemptive love is one that kids in foster care not only need, but want to hear and will cling so tightly to.

That being said — you can also get involved without being a full-time foster parent. Put yourselves closer to the need, and find ways to serve. Start a meal train for a family when a new kiddo moves in, just like you would for a new baby — or see what physical needs you can help them fill, like clothing or school supplies. You’d be hard pressed to find a foster parent (or any parent!) that turns down an offer for free babysitting services. Become a respite family and provide very short-term care for a few nights for other foster families. No matter how you choose to get involved, you will be blessed in ways you couldn’t have imagined. He is bigger than all of our fears and doubts.