by Timothy Whalen | Jul 11, 2018 | Foster Care |
I am making a shameless appeal to Bible believing churches to have their church members pray and consider being a foster family with the possible option of adopting the children they foster. You may already have a family or you may be childless. It does not matter. You should still PRAY about what the Lord would have you to do. It might be He will lead you to foster to adopt or maybe it is just to foster without adoption. We need you too! Then please consider helping the foster family with love and support. Possibly you could volunteer to babysit while the mom and dad have a small break. Or maybe it would be that you would come alongside a foster family and relieve the mom by offering to help with housework. Ask if you can mow the lawn for them. Help them at church by showing patience as the children act out a little in the service. I am a pastor and we could not foster if I had a regular nine to five job. We are busy with seven children! Cathy will oftentimes call me and say, “I need you right now!” I am glad to be on call and take a few children over to the church with me and continue their homeschooling in my office as I work. Remember they came from a hard place so to speak and they will need more love and guidance than your biological children did. My precious wife and I have been on this journey for ten years now and have had twenty seven children come through our care and we have adopted six children. “I must be crazy!” I say to myself. “I am turning fifty nine soon and I am still changing diapers? Yes, but I view it as a sacred trust and duty. I want to raise these children with lots of love and for the glory of God!”
About now dear reader you are saying, “Yes, you are crazy!” or “I could never do that. I could never love a child and become emotionally attached only to have that same child sent back to their biological parents.” Our hearts have been broken to pieces many times during this journey but I thank the Lord that one of our trainers said, “You have to love them enough to take them in and help them and you have to love them enough to let them go.” And really, does not every relationship on earth end sooner or later? What a thrill to know you have impacted a life for time and for eternity! Of course the decision to remove or return a child never rests with us. Humanly speaking it rests with the court system, DHS, coaches, or even the parent’s willingness to receive the parenting classes and substance abuse counseling offered to them. As Christians we know the Lord runs things and we must pray and trust His sovereignty in these and all other matters. Believe me when I say we have been driven to our knees in prayer many times when we see the stress these little ones have endured or the antics they perform on a daily basis. Malani once asked me, How old was I when you (dad) were pregnant for me?” That was a hard one to answer and I could not beg off by saying, “Go ask your mother.”
According to the state of Michigan’s official website, www.michigan.gov/fostercare there are thirteen thousand children in foster care and over three hundred that need a foster family right now in this state. Just Shiawassee County DHS alone has their work cut out for them. The foster care system in every state is under tremendous pressure from the massive caseload put upon them. Across the United States there were 427,000 foster children in care at the end of the fiscal year 2015 and in 2016 the number jumped to over 437,500! The opioid epidemic has further stretched overworked resources. Many times drugs and child abuse seem to go hand in hand. The worst states are Indiana, West Virginia, Florida, and Georgia. From 2015 to 2016 drug abuse rose an astounding 32% in these states alone! If these precious children are not cared for they become candidates for human trafficking or sex trafficking. Children who are not cared for in a loving nurturing home are far more likely to quit school, abuse drugs, go to jail or end up pregnant outside of marriage. On a positive note, the number of country-wide adoptions rose up from 54,000 in FY 2015 to 57,000 in FY 2016. All of the children we have adopted have been removed under adverse conditions but I will not comment on any particulars nor will I either confirm nor deny any reasons for removal to protect their innocence. If you foster or foster to adopt you may be asked hard questions such as, “Why didn’t my mom love me?” or, “Is my daddy still in prison?” Believe me when I say you will need the wisdom that only comes from God to tactfully answer those questions. A word of advice is in order here. No matter what YOU may think of the biological parents you must never run their parents down or belittle them. In so doing you are lowering that child’s self-worth also. We know of instances where the biological parents are themselves the victims of terrible, or no parenting from their own parents!
THEY CAME FROM A HARD PLACE
Not so long ago a mother is Shiawassee county was sent to prison for child abuse. The details are sickening and will not be covered in this post. Hopefully, the child will have no memory of this. However, you may foster a child that is old enough and remembers every detail of what happened to them and therefore will act out upon arrival at your front door. We know of a foster family in another county that had a child get out of bed, urinate on his pillow, and then go right back to bed using that same pillow! As bizarre as that is, it made perfect sense to the child. He had been living in filthy conditions and the smell of urine made him feel a little bit safer. Sadly, it reminded him of the home where he was removed. A child may have severe nightmares or as it is called night terrors when a memory is triggered by a seemingly normal event in our estimation. It may be a dog barking, a dish crashing to the floor, or a loud voice. Be ready for these things. They do not have to make sense to us. Remember, they came from a hard place. The social worker will let you know what is needed about the child and you take it from there. As the child is placed in a new environment many times they will naturally revert back to some old “acting out” to get attention or they may be testing the water to see what is acceptable in this new house.
This next piece of advice is priceless. MAKE SURE your biological children are fully “onboard” with this thing called fostering. Prepare them with the fact that life will be different and that the new child may steal, lie, or be demanding. Some of you may say, “That’s no problem! My kids are like that right now.” Believe me. It WILL be different! Then prepare yourself and your biological children that there will be no favoritism shown in the house to anyone. This is where the balancing act comes full circle. Fact: You already love your own children and now you have a child that is a real handful! He or she may wet the bed, destroy a toy or refuse to eat the delicious meal you just prepared. Love all of the children in their own special way that they need.Be prepared to compromise just a bit and not insist that, “It’s my way or the highway buster!” I have a theory that there are times you will get more by asking for less. They may have come from that hard place where it was a job just to survive let alone thrive. (I am sure there are many people reading this who have questions or comments. Please add to the post with your thoughts.) Thank you!