Recently the AP reported that for the first time in more than 10 years, foster care numbers rose slightly in 2013 and more sharply last year. We should be unsettled by this news, which you can read in full here. But how can we respond?
First, these numbers should break our hearts. More than 415,000 children are in limbo, waiting to see where their future will go. Of those, 108,000 are available for adoption and waiting for a family to say yes to them as a son or daughter. Yet for more than 22,000 kids in 2013, that day never came as they aged out of foster care as adults without a family of their own. If those numbers weren’t hard enough, 14% of children in foster care live in group homes instead of foster family. And 4,500+ foster children are unaccounted for as runaways, unable to deal with life in foster care but who knows what they are going through now that they are on their own and particularly vulnerable to child trafficking and other dangers.
But more than breaking our hearts, these numbers should move us to action. If one family from every three churches committed to adopt one child and those three churches committed to support that family, there wouldn’t be children waiting to be adopted in foster care. Sure, there would still be temporary placements and other similar constructs, but the foster care system as we know it would be destroyed.
By the church.
Imagine that. Imagine if the church was known more for reflecting Christ like that instead of reflecting hate or intolerance. Imagine if we called families to adopt or foster and rallied around them as they say yes, with the support of one or more area churches, knowing they may need reinforcements and respite as they do battle with their children against previous traumas and fear triggers. Imagine that.
Better than just imagining, though, engage with ministries who are working to make that a reality. Some include The Forgotten Initiative, ALL IN Orphan Care, Tapestry, and The Hope & Healing Institute. If you know of others, no matter how large or small scale or how local or global the efforts, please leave a comment on this post or our Facebook page to share who they are and what they do. We’d love to share the good work being done by others in the kingdom of God!
In addition to serving as a Key Ministry Church Consultant, Shannon Dingle is a co-founder of the Access Ministry at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC.