Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Supporting Foster Families {and looking after orphans}

Most people know I became a mom through adoption – three times. I’ve shared that a couple hard years of infertility is how God led Greg and I to adoption. We had no idea what we were getting into, but once we were there, we knew that’s where we were supposed to be.

Adoption wasn’t our Plan B, but infertility was the heartache God used to get our attention. Obviously, not everyone is called to adoption. But God does call his followers to care for the fatherless and orphans.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
James 1:27

Sometimes caring for orphans does mean growing your family through adoption or foster care, but many times it looks like helping families who are walking through these processes, participating in programs that help feed and clothe orphans, or supporting businesses that give to orphan care.

Through the ministry to adoptive mommas God built up around me, I’ve gotten to learn much about fostering recently. I have friends who have foster babies in their homes right now. I know others who are getting certified so they can serve this way.

I’ve been thinking about how when we – as believers – claim to be pro-life, we have to do more than protest abortion. We don’t have to adopt or foster, but we do have to serve children who need love and moms who are choosing life. And some of those children and mommas are wrapped up in the foster system.

May is National Foster Care Month. So I wanted to share some ways you – wherever you are, whether you’re married or single, regardless of how big your family is – can serve families who are choosing to foster. {Tweet that.}

Show up with a meal. Any time a regular routine is interrupted – even with something happy like new life – it’s hard to get to the grocery, plan meals, and prepare meals. And whatever you bring doesn’t have to be gourmet. Go to the local BBQ restaurant and get enough meat and sides to provide a few meals to the family adjusting to its new normal. Have a pizza delivered to them. Double whatever you’re making for your own family.

Offer specific help. Think about this family’s life and offer to do something specific – go to the grocery, do laundry, sit with the baby so momma can shower, or mow the lawn. Texts that say “Let me know what I can do” are well-intentioned, but saying “I’m at the grocery store, what I can I get you?” are more practical.

Provide care for other children. With the foster system come many appointments (pediatrician checkups, visitation with bio family, etc.) the family doesn’t have much control over. If you know a family who is fostering a little one, offer to help with any older kids in the home.

Be on call to get supplies. Foster situations often happen with little time to spare. If you know someone who suddenly has a new child in the home, offer to run to Walmart to get diapers, formula, clothes, activities, or whatever else that child may need. Children often come into foster homes with almost nothing.

Let parents give gifts. Foster children have a lot of people in and out of their lives. So, if you have something special to give a child, let the parents do that for bonding purposes. Depending on your relationship with the family, you may get a chance to bond with the child too, but give that time.

Understand you may not understand. Even if you weren’t called to foster, your friend was. Be a listening ear and be there for whatever practical support is necessary, but don’t judge the way she’s bonding with a child that may not be in her home forever. This child needs love – and with that comes attachment. Yes, it’s hard. But God doesn’t promise he’ll call us only to easy things. He calls us to sanctify us – and that usually means doing something hard. In fostering, there’s the emotional challenges as well as the complications that come with a flawed system and its logistically issues.

If you do some of these things I shared – or other things that make sense for the people in your life – then you’re serving orphans because your friends need you while they’re in the trenches. And my guess is you’ll get a whole new perspective that draws you nearer to God.

Thanks for your grace last week when I had a schedule snafu that threw off the post I thought I had prepared for #ThreeWordWednesday. Life happens sometimes. I'm glad to be back this week! And I've got several giveaways opens, if you're want to join me there too: "The League and The Lantern" book for tweens. Jeremy Camp CDs. The new "ESV Family Devotional Bible."


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