Those of you who know me, know that I have a heart for kids. I mean, I only spend every waking moment with my three as we homeschool, so yeah… you’ve seen those memes that talk about the moms who celebrate their kids going back to school? I cringe when I hear all the people celebrating about sending their kids back to school for the year. I know different strokes for different folks; what works well for one family will not necessarily work well for another. So if you’re not a homeschooling family; you’re doing what works well for you. You love your kids, and you value their education, however it is they may be getting it.
So… this post is a little different than what I usually write. I’m going to hit on a little bit of a heavier topic. I hope you don’t mind.
Years ago when ComputerGuy and I were first married, I got a job working at a public school as a “Para.” Basically a teacher’s aide. The teacher I was aiding, however, ended up on maternity leave for the semester so I ended up (although unlicensed and unexperienced,) teaching a class of several 8th-grade kids who had been labeled as “behaviorally disabled.” Scary, huh? But we had a good semester!
One kiddo’s only problem was that he was habitually absent. And I mean he’d attend maybe once or twice every two weeks. He was a bright, friendly kid, but it was obvious that his parents did not value his education at all. I have no idea what his home life was like, but it astounded me that they wouldn’t (or couldn’t) at least give this boy the very basic foundation of what he’d need to succeed in life by getting him to school.
Parenting is one of the most base instincts we have. When mothers hear a crying baby, we are biologically and psychologically wired to react to it. But in society today where it is acceptable, even celebrated, to cut a child’s life short before it hardly has a chance to begin… is it so surprising that this God-given intuition has been suppressed and denied? A negative result is inevitable.
It is not a new problem; but these issues: selfishness, addiction, violence, abuse, and hardened-hearts… all have led to an epidemic that we need to do something about. Did you know that on any given day there are 400,000- 600,000 children in foster care in our country?
Let’s get to the crux of the matter here. What a heartbreaking statistic that is! That’s roughly half a million kids who have had to face broken homes of one kind or another. These kids cover all ages, and most of them will remain in state care for at least two years on average. 26,000 of those kids age-out of the system every year. And with little to no support network, how well do you think they fair? Of boys that age out of foster care, over 60% of them end up incarcerated or are on welfare, and 25% of them will end up homeless on the streets.
What can we do? Can we even put a dent in such shocking statistics? I don’t know. But I do know we have to try. We should try, when Called and able to put the pieces of a little one’s life back together. We can show them love and stability they may not have known before. We can be a rock, a harbor of safety until they can be safely reunified with their parents.
ComputerGuy and I have some dear friends who have taken this leap of faith. They have five precious foster kiddos in their home now. What a shock that must have been, going from two grown out-of-the-house to five littles underfoot! But I can tell you that it is absolutely amazing to watch. These kidlets know they are loved, and it has made such a difference in them in just the few short months they’ve been living with our friends. Their story is not yet finished being written, but I know whatever the ending may be, whether they end up being adopted or being returned to their mom that our friends have made a huge impact on these little lives; they’ve shown them a love that they will carry with them forever.
Even if you can’t open your home, there are many other ways to get involved. We can provide meals for a family as a child enters the home. Sometimes these placements happen without more than a few minutes warning! We can get to know the foster kiddos and offer to babysit, or become certified to take a foster child for a few hours as a respite to foster families. Helping could mean something as simple as coming over to watch the kids so mom or dad can catch up on things at home. We can also commit to encouraging and praying for worn-out foster parents. We can be a non-judgemental, listening ear. We can watch bio kids when foster court visits and therapy appointments occur. Friend and community support are absolutely essential to foster-families!
It’s a ministry that is not for everyone, but one we need to recognize the huge need for and be willing to prayerfully consider if perhaps you are one who should open your heart and home.
Do you know any foster families? What are ways that you can minister to them?
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