It began with a newspaper article. The tragic story was told of a toddler and included his picture. He had been removed from his home; multiple fractures and serious trauma as a result of abuse. Unfortunately, he was returned to his family. He didn’t make it the second time. He died at the hands of the ones who had hurt him so badly before. That article ended with this sentence, “one of the problems is that there aren’t enough foster families for these children at risk.” That was when our family took the first move to get involved. Twenty years ago, with a daughter in college and two teenage girls at home we began fostering. Along the way and along the years we have fostered thirteen children and adopted two sons, now 15 and 19 years old.
In all the years that we have fostered and been involved with the CALL (Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime), we have never seen the crisis at the level it is now – never has there been so many children needing foster care – and such a disparity between that critical need and the families to meet that extreme need. Recently, in one single day, 23 children came into care in the Arkansas Foster Care System for the first time. There were NO available homes for these children. Not one available family that could give them shelter and attention, meals, kindness and order. There is an enormous state-wide need. More so than at any other time since we have been foster parents.
I know you are hit on every side by needs. They surround us. You can’t fix everything out there. Why should you consider this need as your own? Why should this problem make you stand up and pay attention and not keep walking by?
It is Biblical. James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress….” Sounds like a calling straight from God to your heart and your family.
It Changes Your Family for the Better. Nothing we have ever done in the life of our family has made such a marked and dramatic difference, first in our daughters, and now in our sons and our grandchildren. A heart for others instead of “me first” self-absorption. An understanding that not everyone was born in a family with the privileges and benefits that our own children have. I can’t imagine that there is much that you are spending your time and effort and money on that will have the same impact on your children as this would. We know yours is not a perfect family. I know for certain that ours isn’t. But, your crazy, busy family with all its quirks is desperately needed. Teach your children that one person, one family, can really make a difference that has lasting eternal impact.
It Validates Your Pro-life Stance. You’ve heard the knock on pro-lifers… ”you only care about children until they are born.” By taking the most vulnerable and defenseless into our homes we give weight and credence to our pro-life message that “all lives matter.”
The Need is Desperate. On any given day in Arkansas, there is something over 4000 children in need of foster care. There are usually around 1100 homes qualified to provide foster care. In the last month, I have recently heard stories of children sleeping overnight in the offices while the caseworkers are searching everywhere and anywhere for an available home willing to take one more child. The need is widespread, not just in a few areas of our state. Almost every county is in the desperate position of not enough homes for the children needing care. And the problem is growing.
How many churches are there in Arkansas? Southern Baptist, Assemblies of God, Missionary Baptist, Nazarene, Church of Christ, Methodist, Catholic,Presbyterian, non-denominational churches…and the list goes on. WHY DO WE HAVE A CRISIS? Where are the believers? For every child that comes into care there should be several waiting families to provide a loving atmosphere and a chance for a new beginning.
These things are also true.
It’s not a fairy tale – you have to know that just because you serve in this way – it doesn’t mean that the ending is “and they all lived happily ever after.” Doing the right thing doesn’t mean doing the easy thing. Should we only do things that are certain not to make us sad or uncomfortable?
It requires sacrifice -Time, patience, persistence, discipline, ingenuity, unconditional love; you are going to need them all. And don’t forget training, paperwork, home studies, paperwork, meetings and paperwork. But if we, the people “saved by grace” and the ones that God rescued and adopted — if we don’t make the sacrifices to make this happen for these children, what does that say about us?
Will a decision like this affect your family? Absolutely and let’s pray that it does. When I see my tough-guy six-foot plus teenagers hold the hand of a five year old walking in a parking lot, or putting him on their shoulders to gallop through the house, I am so thankful for the chance for my boys to get a chance to love someone, even for a little while, like that.
If you have EVER considered becoming a foster parent – NOW is the time. You are desperately needed. There is no perfect time. There is no perfect family. Listen to your heart. If we don’t do this, who will? And, if not now, when?
Matthew 18:23: “Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.”