Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Foster Care

Yesterday I mentioned that there are nearly 500,00 children in the US foster care system.  For those of us in Texas we have nearly 27,000 children in foster care and according to a recent article the numbers are expected to rise.

After being flooded with all of these numbers I am reminded of this quote that has haunted me for over a year.

"When thousands die it is just a statistic, but when one dies it is a tragedy." 

In the midst of all of these numbers I am praying that we can identify with the one and not get caught up in the statistics.  Because everyone of those children that make up the 500,000 have a face and a name...

Meet LaQuinton

Introducing Michaela

 Say hello to Ryan

This is Zachary
Meet Mardio, Austin, Reina, and Destiny (brothers and sisters who would just like to stay together)
Just 8 faces and 8 names out of those 27,000 in our own backyard.  8 names and faces that have hobbies and personalities.  8 names and faces who are just waiting for someone to want them.

Now I will admit that Nathan and I have both ignorantly said that part of the reason we are adopting internationally (a part for the call of God on our lives to adopt from Africa) is because "at least children in the US have foster care...they are not going to die of starvation or some type of preventable disease."

While that statement may be true there is something that I learned this week after reading this book...

(I HIGHLY recommend this book)

Castaway Kid tells the story of 3 year old Robbie who was left at an orphanage (or children's home as we like to call them these days) many years ago.  The book chronicles his life and the emotions that went along with growing up and just wanting to be wanted.  I learned so much from this book but what struck me most was the death of hope.

While children in the US foster system may not die of starvation or some preventable disease they are facing death...the death of their hope.  The death hope that they will ever be wanted.  The death of hope that they can ever be more than their childhoods.  The death of hope that they can be more than the circumstances that put them into the system.

I don't know about you but I am not sure there is anything worse that the death our hope.  I would hate to see sweet Tyrone lose his hope.
But truthfully I learned this week that the reason many children who have their pictures up on the Internet at heart galleries or on adoptuskids is because everything has been done to find them a family and this is the last hope.

What about children like Josh who are already 18 but would still love to be adopted just so they have somewhere to go at Thanksgiving and Christmas... just so they can have someone to call when they meet the person they are going to marry or when they get their first job.

So what can we do about these faces and names...
  • adoption-the Lord may be calling your family to be the forever family for a child, teen, or sibling group.  Many times adoption through the Foster Care System is free and if not it is very inexpensive.
  • foster care- the Lord may be calling your family to be the "safe place to land" for a child while they are waiting for their forever family or while things with their biological family are being worked out.
  • respite care- you may be called to provide short term (1 day- 2 weeks) care for one of more of these children.  This is a great way to be a blessing to foster parents who need to go on vacation or take care of some type of can't just get any babysitter you want when you are a foster parent.
  • become a CASA representative- you can become an advocate for a child by joining up with CASA.  Many children have to appear in court and you can be the person to stand beside them and walk them through this scary time.  You can advocate for their needs to be met at school and in their foster family as well.  More than anything you can be a "safe" person for them and ultimately a least one person that is "for" them.
  • volunteer at a local Children's Home/Ranch/Transitional Care facility- call the one nearest to you and ask HOW you can help...while it is fun to go in and give out bubbles or soccer balls and then leave they may need you to read with a certain child each week or help in kitchen...just be willing to help in a way that is needed.
  • pray- look at the heart galleries and adoptuskids and pray for these children.  We say all the time that we believe in power of prayer and the lives of these children are desperate need of the Lord's power to overcome life's obstacles.  I have a sweet friend who has been doing this for years.  While she has never been able to see the fruit of her prayers, she has been faithful to continue praying always trusting that God can make a difference!
That is just a short list to get us all thinking about where our place might be in our calling to care for these children.  Will it be neat and organized, fitting in our nice little box...most likely not.  But the more I read scripture the more I notice that Jesus spent his time with people whose lives were a mess (much like my own).  I think it safe to say that Jesus was not afraid of getting dirty...after all He did save me and there is not much about my life that fits in a nice little box!:)  We all have dirty, messy parts of our lives BUT we have found a rescuer.  While we cannot go around "rescuing" children we can introduce them to the rescuer!!

So I am left with these questions...

Why am I so afraid of getting dirty?

Who am I going to introduce to the rescuer?


Keri said...

I have gone to sites like those and to be honest, it just seems so overwhelming. So many and then so few to help.
Did I ever tell you that you inspired me to reach out to Lena? To give her a home, not just a place to stay. When the question arose, it just felt like the right thing to do, not a whole lot of thinking about it.

Beth in NC said...

I don't even know what to say. God has plans for these precious children. I wish we could take them all in.

Bless you for sharing.

Jazzy J said...

Hi this is Jessica (pate) Allen. I went to etbu for 3 semesters. Heard u guys were adopting and saw ur blog. Very ironic because we know Laquinton! My husband and I work at azleway boys ranch (and were also foster parents for 3 years). Laquinton was at azleway and is now in a Christian foster home in our neighborhood. He comes and uses our ball goal alot! Yes, these foster children are in desperate need of hope and prayers. Oh the stories I could tell. Hopefully the church will continue to answer the call to take care of the orphans. God bless ur sweet family.