Let’s be honest here, the foster care system is a hot mess. Recertifications, endless paperwork, weekly family visits, background checks, classes, disruptions of regular life, etc., the foster care system has caused serious headaches on more than one occasion. Not only that, foster care horror stories from the kids are more than enough to make anyone stay far away.
So why do I think every family should willingly walk into the hellfire that is the American foster care system?
First, I believe that as Christians, we are called to love the least of these. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of anyone more least than a child without a safe place to call home, a child who may never stand a chance of experiencing the love we all seek from a mother or father figure.
Second, I believe we can change our broken foster care system one family at a time. As Christians, we also take part in God’s redeeming work in the world. As a foster family, we can reform the system from the inside by being a positive influence to every kid that passes through our house. As a member of the community, we can advocate for a better system: one that’s safer for kids, works better with their parents so they can be reunited as a healthy family and is well-funded so every kid has their best shot at escaping the cycle of broken relationships.
Third, for those of us who claim to be “pro-life,” we need to be pro ALL life. It’s easy to call for an end to abortion; it’s a lot harder to set up an adoption and foster care system that will take care of children born to families who cannot take good care of them. Being a foster family is a way you can “buy in” to being pro ALL life. For people who can’t see themselves fostering, you can still be pro ALL life by contributing to a fund to help people adopt kids, advocating for local adoptions, being a support system for foster families in your area, and encouraging your kids or loved ones to befriend those kids. By taking these steps to make these kids and their families feel welcomed, you provide them with a community built on love for them to lean on when times get tough.
Finally, I’d like to end with how my family and I have been positively impacted by the foster care system. I didn’t always advocate so strongly for foster care, but it all changed when our family welcomed our first foster boy, Leo, in August of 2019. Now, I won’t pretend it was all sunshine and rainbows; the first few months were a constant struggle. Among other things, Leo had night terror and sensory issues. But, we got to watch him grow and become mentally, physically and spiritually healthy as a result of the love we showed him. The night terrors are much less frequent now, and he doesn’t mind getting dirty. Most importantly, Leo closes our family dinners in prayer almost every night.
Being a foster family helped us expose Leo to God’s love in a way he may not have had otherwise. With the adoption of Leo on December 21, 2020, I am certain that Leo will grow up knowing God’s love through how we love him. Fostering him was never an easy task, and it’s not for the faint of heart. But trust me on this: if you stick with it, you will be blessed as you bless others. As more Christians enter the system as foster families, we will see positive, love-filled change that will benefit so many kids.