Category

foster care/adoption

Category

Recently I was trying to check out and reschedule appointments at the pediatrician’s office with my two littles. We had to have a bit of discussion about the shot record and rescheduling due to court dates, so it was apparent I was not your average parent. One little was crying, wanting another sucker because the color I had chosen wasn’t good enough. The other one, the highly contagious one, kept walking off and touching everything as I continued to reign them back in. Obviously, we were holding up the line. Finally, I glanced at the patient lady behind me and said, I am so sorry. she kindly said, “it’s okay, I am just impressed you are a foster mom.” she smiled and moved to another window. I was grateful for her flexibility, but as the day went on, the word impressed kept nagging at my soul.

Impressed, no, please don’t be impressed. I realize the woman was trying to be comforting or encouraging, but the last thing I wanted her to be was impressed. The very thought of people being impressed by my simple, obedient act of being a foster parent is what has kept me relatively quiet on social media and this blog (until now) about my new normal. The last thing I want is a spotlight on me when the children and their stories and struggles deserve all the attention. So, I began to think about what I wish non-foster parents were instead of impressed.

Instead of being impressed – be informed.

Before I entered this faith journey, I was clueless about the staggering statistics involved in foster care. As I looked at the needs of Alabama, I was reminded that these are not kids halfway around the world; these are children within a day’s driving distance of me. Want to learn about the numbers involving foster care in your state? Check out this interactive map at the Christian Alliance for orphans websiteinteractive map.

This graphic that has impacted me most is another powerful one (below) from the Christian alliance for orphans. The top number is the number of foster children in each state. The bottom number is the number of churches, not people in churches, churches in each state.

Knowledge leads to power, conviction, and action. What will you do now that you have come face to face with the staggering statistics of children right in your backyard?

Instead of being impressed, be involved.
i love the quote that not everyone can be a foster parents, but everyone can do something to help a foster child/child. this couldn’t be more true. maybe you weren’t called to be a foster parents or maybe you can only foster a limited number of children. that doesn’t mean you have to stop being involved with helping them. did you know most foster children move to their foster home with all of their belonging in a garbage bag?

Instead of being impressed, be an encouragement.
There is no way I would have made it without the many encouragers God has put in my life. Now that I am not actively fostering, I try to do what I can for those who are. So maybe you aren’t called to foster kids in your home, but you can do something. First, you can pick a foster family to encourage and support with meals, supplies, and babysitting. Second, you can pray for and encourage overworked and underpaid social workers. You can volunteer to be a CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocate. You can go through training to be a respite home for fostering families. Finally, you can buy Christmas and birthday gifts for children in foster care. You, we, can do something.

I am so thankful that not one of these children is a surprise to God. He has equipped His body of believers. The question is, will we just be impressed by those that serve as foster parents, or will we roll up our pants and jump in the trenches with them?

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i just didn’t see it, and if i am totally honest i didn’t want my eyes opened to all the hurt and pain in the foster care system. i liked my comfy, bow-headed bubble in my suburb of alabama. if i didn’t know what was happening just miles away, the thoughts didn’t have to haunt me. the truth about children in foster care just doesn’t sink in until you begin to have your eyes opened so you can really see.

  • seeing a request about an infant with more broken bones than months being alive can never be forgotten.
  • role-playing real-life scenarios in foster care training hits a little too close to home.
  • hearing stories from foster parents, birth parents, and state workers who have seen and experienced trauma situations we can never imagine, leaves a mark on you.
  • picking up a child from the state and being handed all their belongings in a black trash bag is a sight you can never forget.
  • sitting in a family court waiting room brings with it sights and sounds that we like to pretend don’t exist, but once they are seen can never be erased from your mind.
  • then there is the film “removed.” i was a blubbering puddle after it’s all too accurate portrayal of the life of a child in foster care. nothing opened my eyes to the great need to help these kids like this short film.

so, if you want your eyes opened to see a glimpse into this world that has hurts and sadness only our great God can begin to heal, take time to watch part one and two of “removed.” oh, and have a box of tissues handy. come, Lord Jesus, come! (part one and two links are below.)

in 2015, birmingham was #1 on the list and in 2017, we were second place to chattanooga. i am not surprised birmingham is on the list. we are the buckle of the Bible belt with more ministries and churches than street corners. i get it. i have Biblically minded conversations almost daily and see God working in great ways, but then i read a verse that has become near and dear to my heart – james 1:27:

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

with that knowledge, i take a look at another set of numbers, numbers that absolutely crush my soul.

with such a stark contrast in numbers versus principle, i had to go back to the first article and discover what they are calling a Biblically minded city. here is their definition:

“Each year, Barna and American Bible Society rank the nation’s top media markets based on their level of Bible engagement. Individuals considered to be Bible-minded are those who report reading the Bible in the past week and who strongly assert the Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches.This definition captures action and attitude—those who both engage and esteem the Christian scriptures. “

let me be clear and say i don’t dare throw a stone from my two-story glass house (i had no idea about our great need for foster parents until my eyes were opened), but at the same time, i can’t just sit and be silent. birmingham is consistently on this list of biblically minded cities, yet the state has numbers about foster care that should haunt us all. the craziest thing is, the number of churches doubles the number of kids in the system in our state. my takeaway,

[bctt tweet=”if birmingham is really a biblically-minded city, we must be using a black sharpie marker to highlight james 1:27 so we don’t have to be held accountable to its charge.” username=”dandibell”]

i don’t have all the answers and while i have adopted one through the foster care system, i simply can’t take in another 4,000. (although it is my dream to be the old woman in the shoe. i just hear the pay isn’t very good.) call me crazy, but what would happen if only half our state’s churches rose up? what if our biblically minded city really took this verse to heart? honestly, through the messy work of foster care (with either reunification or adoption as the outcome), i think we would begin to see revival as we see the Gospel lived out in loving the least of these.

so for now i pray, i educate, and i speak up for these kids. may God use this biblically-minded city to blow people away with the love of Christ displayed by those that love His Word.

please comment and share what the believers in your area are doing change these statistics?

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