When people find out we are foster parents, we get a variety of responses, but the most common, by far, are those of admiration, followed by a reason as to why this lifestyle couldn’t be theirs.
“Wow. It takes a really special person to do that; I could never foster.”
“Good for you! That must be so hard. I don’t think I could ever do it.”
“How do you do it? I could never say goodbye.”
These responses fail to see the true heart behind foster care and the unchanging, unshakeable motivation.
- My decision to foster has nothing to do with meeting my own needs.
We didn’t become foster parents to make us feel good about ourselves. We didn’t become foster parents because we wanted to grow our family (though, the journey has led us that way!). We didn’t even become foster parents “to give back” to society. I’m certain that I could find other volunteer opportunities and community outreach programs that would be far less taxing on my mental, physical, and emotional health than foster care. I could donate to and support local organizations doing work for far less than the financial investment involved in raising these children as our own. No, foster care isn’t about us in any way.
Today, in your province–in your city–there are children who are unable to live in their homes for a million different reasons, but the one thing that they all have in common is that they need a safe, warm, and loving home tonight. While it would be nice to receive a backpack for school, and Christmas gifts at the end of the year, or even your genuine prayers, what they need tonight is attachment, stability, and security.
As the adults in this dynamic, we get to make the conscious choice to enter into a situation of risk for the sake of someone else. These children had absolutely no choice in their current situation, and yet are living with extremely difficult consequences. They need attachment more than I need to be protected from the pain of a potential goodbye down the road.
When I am able to flip the narrative surrounding foster care, I am no longer focused on why I could never foster because it would be so hard on me. Rather, I am able to be freed from my needs and sacrifice for the sake of someone else. This decision is conscious, intentional, and daily… and it is hard!
Which leads me to my next point…
- I am not strong enough to do this, but I believe in a God who is.
As a Christian, I am not walking through this world in my own strength. I am not making decisions based on how strong or capable, or even how prepared or equipped I feel, for certain situations. I believe that the gospel is strong enough, is big enough, is sturdy enough to sustain us through the rocky, stressful, and painful journey of foster care.
When you, dear brother or sister, look me in the eye and tell me that you could never be a foster parent, I am often silent, unsure of how to answer. I am curious, friend: what do you mean by that?
Do you believe that God would (or could?!) never call you to this life?
Or do you doubt that he would sustain you through it, if he did?
If you believe in the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, how then, can you state with certainty that there is something you could never do? Does he not make a habit of continually calling us into deeper, darker, and harder places, in the hope that we would be hard pressed, struck down, and brought to a place of sanctification and more dependence? Hasn’t he led his people into difficult places, and hasn’t he asked them to do hard things? Why is it so hard to believe that he could lead you into foster care?
If you believe in the power of the gospel and the strength and hope contained within it, why do you doubt that it would be strong enough to guide you through the valleys of foster care? Or are you hesitant, wondering if the promises would truly hold up for you? Would his Word nourish you as you navigated the grief of goodbyes? Would he sustain you through the turbulence and the uncertainties? Would his peace be enough? Would the gospel fill you with hope in the dark days, and would he come through after every frustration, every heartache, every disappointment?
I can promise you that it would be enough; it would hold you up and sustain you through it all.
I am not a super-woman, super-mom, or super-human, capable of loving selflessly, sacrificially, and generously over and over again. I do not possess a strength that is unavailable to you. But I have put my trust in Jesus, who has given me the ultimate example of what sacrificial love looks like–the intentional giving up of oneself for the benefit of someone else.
And what is foster care, if not that?
Friends, brothers, sisters, dear ones…we serve a God who has not only equipped us for, but has also called us into, the difficult places.
We can do hard things.