I had a young Christian woman say to me, "A lot of Christians say they are pro-adoption, but I don't know any who have actually done it." She went on to say she could possibly think of one or two in her wide circle of acquaintances who had adopted internationally, but no one had ventured into adoption through the state foster care system. She knew of no foster parents. I'll be the first adoptive foster parent to tell you, it's not always easy, but it's always worth it.
A lot of us Christians don't want to get too hurt in this Christian walk. I will be the first in line for Easy Street rather than the long and bumpy road. That isn't typically God's way, is it? The rocky road with many lessons learned is almost always the path God is going to lead us down. That is exactly the route we took when it came to adoption.
Oh sure, we knew from day one we wanted to adopt. Both my husband and I felt that 'calling.' We were young and had naive dreams of international adoption from the days long before we were married. And then life in the real world began. We had jobs to keep us alive, biological babies to birth, a home to create.
When we were finally ready to make that dream a reality we began our research where we started many years ago, internationally, only to have that fantasy promptly crushed. This costs HOW MUCH?! Well, we quickly moved on to domestic adoption only to find much of the same road blocks. This didn't completely ruin our adoption dream, but it led us to adoption through our state foster care system. Here is where we found God's plan unfold. But it wasn't on Easy Street.
The foster care system is a scary world to some Christians. I get it. It's a government agency dealing with the harsh reality of illegal drugs, abuse of all ugly kinds, harsh words, and disability, along with poverty and abandonment. Each happening at the expense of a child. These things hit close to home, sometimes right up the street. It's easier to turn our heads to this than to immerse ourselves and our families right up in it. Amidst this upheaval it can be difficult to see Christ at work. But I guarantee your family will come away stretched for the better. (I can say this because of that whole hindsight being 20/20 thing.)
We went about all the paperwork (so much paperwork) and classes involved in preparing to become foster parents. We knew from the start of this foster parenting gig that our path would be different. You see, God had already given us two biological children. One of whom has physical and intellectual disabilities that require our full attention. And our other child was already being asked to do much beyond his years because of our family dynamics. While all the paperwork said we were ready, finding a child was going to be a tougher fit than we imagined.
So we waited. And we waited. We waited six years. During this time we did respite for other foster parents. Respite is a little like approved babysitting. (Children in the state's care can't be cared for by just anyone. You must be screened by the state.) This was good for us, and I recommend it to everyone considering becoming foster parents. But we still hadn't found the right child for our family. So we decided it was time to quit. We were finished with all the home inspections and almost right placements only to be disappointed. We were done.
But isn't this always how God works?
We got a call. A child needed a home. We were suddenly foster parents.
Here is where so many people get scared of foster parenting. What happens if you bring a child into your home, fall in love with that child, hope to adopt that child, and then wham-o, the child goes back to the biological family? Well, reunification with the child's biological family is always the first goal. That's a tough one. But what if you are the first time that child has heard of Jesus? I mean really heard about Jesus and who he is? The foster care system is a government agency that does not lean towards one religion or another. But ... how many bedtime prayers will you get to pray with that child? How many times could you to speak life to a broken family? (Possibly weekly.) How many courtrooms will you walk into with the Holy Spirit groaning words to our Father on your behalf? And how many nights could you sit on a couch answering the question of a child, "How long did you pray to God for me to come?"
Today we are no longer foster parents. We are adoptive parents. The road between the two? Well, it wasn't always easy either, but it was more than worth it.
What you can do: James 1:27 is clear, we are to look after orphans and widows in their distress. Some will adopt internationally; some domestically; and some, like us, will become foster parents. And others are not called to foster or adopt at all, and that is more than okay. But we are all still called to look after the orphans and widows. Yes, we want your prayers more than anything. And pizza on a Tuesday night could really help, too. So send some meals, gift baskets or gift cards; grocery stores, gas cards, pizza and fast food. These were all (and still are) frequented by us. Diapers, formula, food, and clothes are not cheap. The state helps with the basics. And it is very basic. It does not cover it all. Kids eat, grow, and emergencies happen.
We need your help. We may say we don't need it. I am famous for saying, "Everything is fine." But, we are LIARS. Please help us. It is not easy, but yes, it is worth it.
My husband and I are parents of all boys. One of whom is a young adult with both physical and intellectual disabilities. I don't always know what I'm doing as I parent these guys. But what I do know is God is teaching me big things through our trials that I probably would have never learned without them. You can find more from me at www.mostlyeandme.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @stefmckeever.