Do you love kids?
Does your heart break when you see a lonely child looking for comfort?
If the answer is yes to either of these questions, let me challenge you to consider exploring foster care.
Foster parents come from many different situations and passages in their lives. Let me tell you mine.
Being from a large family of 8 children our house was filled noise and fun and dickering that delighted and included all in the camaraderie and family experience. Sharing and cooperation were a fundamental necessity and there were few complaints. In our first pastorate with four kids in tow we considered sharing our lives with foster children who were abused or disenfranchised.
We applied for small children but the huge need at that time was for preteens, teens and groupings of brothers or sisters. Signing with a neighborhood social service foster agency helped to keep the kids in their cultural zone. There was a training program that had to be completed which was helpful. We and another couple in our church applied and received teen girls.
After prayerful consideration, we took sisters, 8th and 10th graders. It was a little daunting but we and the other family were enthusiastic and supportive. Our kids took to them right away but we still had to blend our family routine with the girls’ cultural situation. Education had not been a priority in their own family nor was the freedom to have friends and expand their boundaries.
Basing our life on Christian principles was definitely a new feature for the girls. However, in spite of themselves they enjoyed our Bible stories and discussions around the table.
Did we struggle with helping our own children to see our values vs the challenges our foster girls were facing during their teen years?
Yes we did.
The girls stayed with us for two years. The blessing came as the youngest was able to go home to her parents and the other graduated from high school, a first time event for their family. The younger girl went back home to be with her family which didn’t last more than a year and a half. The older graduated from high school. She was the first in her family to have a high school diploma and then ventured out on her own. Our foster kids learned new family skills and appropriate decision making without total restriction.
I have to admit is was difficult to let our foster kids go. However, at the same time we felt like we showed the girls a different family dynamic that demonstrated cooperation, love, a Biblical foundation, and how to make good choices.
After the girls left our home we were able to keep in contact with them. Now they are both married, have children of their own and utilize the family skills and rules we incorporated in our family. I am so proud of their growth and their family life. When my husband asked them about family life and discipline, both girls did not hesitate to say, “We learned it from you!”