I think that if God told us what His plans were before we were ready to hear them, we would just nervously giggle in disbelief and fear. He is so kind to call us into this fostering adventure ever-so gently.
As of now, we have completed all the requirements and are just waiting for my fingerprints to come back to start Emergency Foster Care. We will provide temporary, short-term care for children aged 0-2 who whould otherwise be in the shelter while waiting for a foster family, typically 30 days or less.
A few peope have asked how we started this. It was actually a series of events that led us to pursue foster care:
- We’ve always talked about adopting. We don’t know how many or when, but it’s always been something we knew would happen. This opened our minds for the idea of loving other people’s children as our own. We still want to grow our family through adoption, but all in God’s timing…
- Jason and I took a “spiritual gifts” test when we were first married. We were both surprised that “hospitality” topped both our lists. It made sense, but we never realized the similarity and had no idea what that meant besides liking people to come over and hang out.
Fast forward to this past year…
- I heard the statistics of how many children are in foster care and how many of them stay FOR MONTHS in the shelters since there are not enough homes for them. This broke my heart and although we thought doing foster care was not for us at this time in our lives, I started volunteering with a private, Christian agency called Lilyfield. I was on an email list that was called upon to make meals for families who had a new placement or when the agency was having a training. I felt that for something I was passionate about, I could at least be involved and support the cause.
- Being involved led me to learning about respite care. It is essentially certified babysitting for those who have foster children in their home. This sounded like a good idea, something we could be involved with, but still in a support role. Respite care providers are fully certified foster homes, but care for children who are already placed when their foster family chooses not to take them on a trip or just need a break. It typically ranges from overnight to a week.
- My friend Heather, who is stationed in Japan, came back to Oklahoma for a two week duty and couldn’t leave behind her little 11 month old sweetness, Eva. I watched her, along with my 17 month old, during the day while Heather worked.
- They had fun together and I gained the confidence to know I could at the very LEAST keep two children alive. :o)
- Some friends were expecting a baby and were having a hard time arranging for childcare between her maternity leave and their daycare slot opening up. After looking at our schedule & our capabilities, we decided there was no reason we couldn’t help them. Not only did a space open up for them, but my eyes were opened to the fact that there was no reason why we weren’t pursuing our passion “to defend the cause of the fatherless” in full throttle.
This verse jumped out to me like lightning: “Let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and truth.” 1 John 3:18.
We knew this is what “loving with actions” was to OUR family and the time was now.
I know it is going to be hard and it will hurt. But I can do something. Even if that something is loving on a child that I don’t know and won’t see again. I’ll have to wait for heaven to see if I made a difference in someone’s life. We will have to depend on Him to fill our tanks back up, ’cause boy, I can forsee some hard times. We are holding onto the promise that He is our strength and with Him all things are possible, including enduring things for the benefit of His kingdom.
Under the Pinnacle Plan, Okahoma recently has removed all infants and toddlers under 2 from the shelters. There are studies proving how permanently damaging shelter life can be to children that young, as they don’t have the opportunity to bond and learn from a primary caregiver. In June 2013, that age will go up to 6. There are plenty of kids of all ages that need someone to provide for their basic needs, along with love and patience.
What grips you? What breaks your heart? What compels you? If you do anything this year, act out the love you verbalize. Don’t talk about it. Show the world what love looks like. Get involved in something.
We love because He first loved us. 1 John 5:19
If your heart wrenches for traumatized children put in situations beyond their control, here is more information on becoming a foster parent:
There is a Foster Care & Adoption Workshop on Sunday, January 13 at 2pm at the Lifechurch.tv Edmond Campus. To RSVP, please email Brenda at email@example.com.
NEWSOK Article on recent changes to age limitations in shelters