There is so much going on in the world right now…and many Christians are so passionate about it all. Understandably so.
But do you know what I’ve been thinking about the past month?
If only half of the people who are so passionate about,(whatever the current Christian topic of the day), could get behind foster care and adoption, what could we do together?
If just a fraction of the people would post a status about the foster care crisis in Arkansas, we could raise so much awareness of the need.
If only there were a flag or colors for the cause of foster care that we could fly or light up the White House with, or change our profile picture to, just think of what that could say to the children languishing in our foster care system today?
We know you’re there.
We see you.
And yet, many times we don’t. You see, most of the time, it’s easy to throw our support for a cause one direction or another. One status update, and we can feel as though we have done our part. We share a status and feel like we’ve accomplished something. If we’re really invested in the cause, we might even write our legislature. But foster care and adoption is one of those uneasy things that we don’t like to speak out for. It’s one of those things we only whisper about. Probably because it requires more of an investment than just a status update or an occasional heated Facebook argument. It’s not an easy thing. It’s one of those life-changing, I’ll-never-be-the-same-again type things.
But, oh, how I wish to one day, open up my Facebook to see a row of status updates about the need for foster families. Oh, how I would love to see my Twitter full of resources for foster care. How I would love to see a White House press conference addressing the orphan crisis.
You see, this is not going to go away. No, it’s just going to get worse. As more and more parents trade their God-given responsibilities privileges for drugs and selfishness, as more parents experience the despair of poverty, more and more children will need us. Our country will continue to create adults who have never had a family, or a home, that have lived their entire lives not really knowing the love of another person. What kind of a future will that be for them? We are already seeing the effects of children raising themselves through little to no guidance and instead of reaching out to the children we complain about their parents. Ideally, the church steps up to care for these children.
But will we be there?
I struggled with this post…I struggled a lot. You see, I know the cost. We are an adoptive family, recently adopting a precious 8 year old boy. I live with the cost of fostering and adoption every day. And you know what breaks my heart the most?
That I can’t take more.
Every day, I get e-mails and messages stating that a child or children have been taken from a home and need placement. At this point, there are no more homes to place the children in, so these children are literally sleeping in the DHS office. Sometimes, I wish that these e-mails were sent out as mass e-mails so everyone could read them every day. I wonder if that would move hearts. I get so discouraged because I see people in my own county more concerned about adopting and sheltering the stray animals in our community than the children. (And yes, I know it’s a worthy cause…but our children have even more worth). I sat with my boys the other day with a heavy heart, and told them about the foster care crisis in Arkansas. And this is what I had to say to their suggestions:
That would be wonderful, but your room isn’t big enough to house any more children.
Well, we aren’t in a place financially to build on to our house yet, but I pray that it will be soon.
No, we can’t let kids sleep in our barn…DHS wouldn’t like that.
I don’t know why there aren’t more open homes ready to take children. We need to pray about that.
I know it’s scary. But being a Christian is a little scary. God sometimes often asks us to do things that are out of our comfort zone. He does that so we can learn that we don’t live life in our own power. If I’ve learned anything from adopting, it’s that I need Jesus more every day. I fail on a daily basis. I told Tim the other day that I wish that people knew how inadequate I am at this adoptive parent thing so we could all be inadequate together. No one comes with all the knowledge needed to do this. That’s why Christians must take up the cause. Sin has created this problem and as Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. Good people have done nothing for this problem and 100 kids to 1 home in my county means that evil is winning.
First, let me say, thank you…thank you for reading this. The first step is awareness. The next step is prayer. Pray about what God would have you do. Pray about each one of these areas, and ask God if it would be His will for you and your family.
1. Foster Family: This is the greatest need in Arkansas right now. We have more children entering the system than ever before. Because of this, we are out of homes. We need people to train to be foster families. With The Call, it requires paperwork and two weekend training sessions.
2. Adoptive Family: There are lots of waiting children in Arkansas. Children waiting for you to say, “Welcome Home!” Adopting from the foster care system in Arkansas is completely free. To look at the faces who are waiting for forever families, visit Project Zero.
3. CASA Volunteer: These are individuals who work with one to two foster children at a time as an advocate for the child. They visit the child and assist the court in determining the child’s best interest. Click here to learn more.
4. The CALL: We truly have an exceptional ministry in The CALL. And yet, few people in my county have ever heard of it. The CALL trains and supports foster and adoptive families. There are many positions within the CALL, including trainers, people to cook food for families and training sessions, CALL MALL volunteers, county coordinators, church representatives….the list goes on and on and on.
5. Steadies: Our adoptive son voiced to us recently that he feels like a basketball being bounced from one house to another, constantly having to learn new rules and new people, and new things. It broke my heart… our son loves basketball and comparing himself to a basketball was a deep philosophical metaphor for his life. This made me realize that our foster kids need steady people in their life. One family we know picks up a certain foster child for the weekend, and has for the past several years. Through various foster homes and even adoption, this family has been a steady for that child. What a gift!
6. Educate: Let’s stop whispering about foster care. Let’s shout from the rooftops that there are children in our country, in our state, who need help! Write status updates about it. Educate yourself. Find out more.
There is something for everyone. And guess what? It takes everyone. I fear that the message we are sending our children these days is,
YOU AREN’T IMPORTANT
This isn’t true…I know that no one truly feels that way, but when we as Christians don’t take up the cause of orphans, that is exactly the message we are sending. If we don’t care about them when they are children, why would they ever walk in our doors as an adult? And then the cycle will continue. You might think that children don’t pick up on these themes, but they do. I promise. You don’t volunteer in your Children’s Department at church…they notice. You don’t spend time with them one-on-one at home…they notice. You don’t take them into your home when they don’t have a home….they notice. You don’t speak for them when you could….they notice.
Ninety-seven children from my county are currently in foster care…and we have one foster home. Do you know what that tells me? It tells me that we aren’t doing enough. We aren’t outraged about this…we should be! Christians should be upset about this. We should be writing status updates about this. We should be heartbroken.
Will you be heartbroken with me? Will you stand with me and start shouting from the rooftops that these children need us?
You can begin by tweeting or sharing this blog post. And then tomorrow, post something else about orphan care. The next day, visit the Heart Gallery. The next day, go check out The CALL. After that, look up CASA. Then, go check out ImmerseArkansas. Oh, and don’t forget Project Zero. Look at the faces of these real children who just need a home. Talk to and meet foster and adoptive children and realize that they are sweet and beautiful children who do not deserve to be treated like a basketball. One more….Jason Johnson and ALL IN is a great resource to learn more about Orphan Care.
There’s no reason and no excuse for the church not to be THE MAJOR ADVOCATE involved in orphan care.
“But religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after orphans and widows in their distress.”