It’s fitting that Hollywood would choose to release a movie about foster care during National Adoption Month. Instant Family tells the story of a couple who become overnight parents to not just one child, but a sibling group of three.
Foster care and adoption are more than passing interests to me, things to care about because the calendar tells me I should. They are personal. I am a foster parent.
Foster care is a subject that makes some people uncomfortable, so it typically doesn’t get the press time or celebrity attention that other causes do. But the statistics don’t lie. In its most recent fact sheet, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that 437,465 children are in foster care throughout the country.
The statistics related to children who exit the system are also troubling. The National Foster Youth Institute reports that only one out of every two foster kids who age out without being adopted by age eighteen will have some form of gainful employment by age twenty-four. Less than three percent will ever earn a college degree. Seven out of every ten girls who age out will be pregnant by the age of twenty-one.
If you’ve ever wondered how to support a foster family, or whether to become a foster family yourself, consider these parts of our story:
Adoption is a representation of the gospel
When you’re adopted, you are placed into a new family, surrounded by love and given the hope of a promising future. You literally receive a new name and even a fresh birth certificate with your new parents’ names on it. Your story is changed. Isn’t that what God does when we join His family?
Foster care changes a child’s life—and yours
Unlike other causes we often hear about, fostering provides proof of life change. When a child who was in an unsafe, unstable home enters a loving foster home, he exchanges chaos for safety, nurturing, and an invitation to thrive. My husband and I are overwhelmed with thankfulness as we watch our eleven-year-old foster daughter blossom. After changing schools five times in her short life, she’s now settled and making friends, participating in extracurricular activities and having fun. She’s living the life every preteen deserves.
I don’t say this as a means of self-praise. In fact, the opposite has happened. God has revealed to us how selfish we are, and even now after our initial “yes,” how we tend to seek out what’s comfortable over what we’re called to do. We are the ones who feel blessed. God has taught us so much by bringing her into our lives, and our family is stronger, more empathetic, and more aware because of her.
Support a foster family, or become one
We are grateful for our village that has helped make our foster care journey possible. Our friends, family, and neighbors are not all fostering, which is okay. In the same way, I’m not across the world serving as a missionary or preaching in my church. We are all members of the Body with parts to play in God’s story. Members of our village have served us by providing meals, babysitting, and inviting my daughter on fun outings. I can’t tell you how helpful it is when we have a casserole waiting on us between homework and therapy appointments, or how big her smile is after an outing with a neighbor! I know others who have served foster families by organizing diaper drives or baby showers, organizing clothes closets, and volunteering to drive foster kids to visits with their birth parents. Everyone can participate somehow. How will you?
Is foster care messy? Of course. Is it worth it? Absolutely. The future of these children is at stake, and they’re counting on us. Would you say “yes” to becoming someone’s “instant family”?
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