1. You can't do it without God.
In my own power I can not rock a crying baby to sleep, a baby who is begging for their mother, and tell them it is all going to be okay. Especially when I know the details of what mom did to them. My flesh screams "WHY?" "Why are you begging for this monster?"
In my own strength, I can't accept criticism with grace. When you get that text from a parent who doesn't have their children for very serious reasons… The text telling me that she doesn't want her children to play outside because they have mosquito and ant bites on their legs. My flesh screams…"You idiot! You are worried about mosquito bites!! Don't you know that mosquito bites are normal... however, what happened to them while they were in your care put their life and well-being in grave danger!!"
In my own strength, I can't pry the Mountain Dew filled sippy cup out of the 2 year old's hand at 8:30pm after their 2 hour supervised parental visit and gently remind them it is bedtime but first let's go take a bath. Because they came home smelling like cigarette smoke, covered head to toe in mud with soiled britches. My flesh screams….I want to tell the child that mommy and daddy shouldn't have done this or that and that mommy and daddy should have taken them to the bathroom.
But when you walk with the Lord, He is strong when I am weak. My weaknesses are great and my strengths are few.
If you are a Christian you should be taking care of Foster Children.
Foster Parents must have community with other believers. All the money in the world, can't take care of a Foster family/child the way a Christian Community of Believers can.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27(ESV)
So if you are sitting in your nice quiet home with your well dressed, well behaved healthy children or grandchildren wondering if you are supposed to be doing anything with Foster Children.
The Answer is YES!
God has not called everyone to be a Foster Parent, but every Christian has been commanded to be with them in their affliction. You may not be able to dedicate yourself to caring for abused, abandoned, emotionally disturbed or orphaned children in your home 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
But you can
- Write a note of encouragement
- Give money
- Make a meal
- Encourage birth children of the foster parents (THEY ARE GIVING UP A LOT MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE! But spiritually gaining and growing because of it. )
- Give your time…You could become a "Respite Family" go to classes so that the Foster Parents will have people that can babysit while they go on a date.
- Collect new and used clothes when a new placement comes into your community….
- Collect Furniture
- Collect School Supplies, bedding, diapers…
- Give the child an overnight bag and a new pillow/toothbrush
- Be aware….If a child is placed and you have children close in age/size clean out the closets.
- Pray. Everyone can pray.
- Smile. Encourage. Love.
Foster parents must surround themselves with other believers and these believers must be actively involved in orphan ministry. Orphan care is a ministry and just like every other ministry you must get your hands dirty sometimes and make sacrifices so that other people can feel the love of Christ.
3. Tears lots of tears….
Tears of JOY…That moment when you finally make that breakthrough you have been working on for weeks, the one that seems small and insignificant to everyone else. The moment when you realize that because of your obedience and sacrifice, a difference was made in the life of a child.
Tears of frustration….When you have answered the same questions 18 times in 2 hours and you finally just can muster the strength to answer it again. Or when you have spent 20 minutes explaining why we need to bathe and brush our teeth no matter what has occurred for the first 7 years of their life and 10 minutes later they return from the bathroom and it is obvious that they have just held their head under the water faucet to give the impression that a bath has taken place.
Tears of Exhaustion…You know when everything that you think could possibly happen has happened and then that one more thing happens….The small thing that you don't have words for…So you just go to your bedroom and cry for a few minutes then you put your big girl panties on and come back out and deal with things like Madea would.
Tears of Sadness…. They will leave. One day they will leave. Nothing can prepare you for this. Yes you will cry. Your birth children will cry. It is hard. It is real hard. You will grieve. It hurts.
Nothing no one can prepare you for this.
But when they leave you must remember that they are worth your tears. They are valuable enough to God to receive your love. God placed that LOVE in your heart so that you could give it to them, if you keep it for yourself it will be of no kingdom good. Love hurts. But God…will fill the holes and patch the brokenness. And if he doesn't you will just have a few more cracks in your pot so that the Light of Jesus can shine through into the darkness of this world.
4. Forgiveness feeds forgiveness
Okay so this one is tough for me…I'm not going to lie.
It is real easy to say but real hard to do.
It is only by the POWER of CHRIST living in me that I can do this one.
Forgiving the birth parent.
You see when a child is placed in your home, they don't always tell you everything…probably because "they" don't know everything.
they tell you just enough…...
But then as that child's heart is knitted to yours and they begin to trust you and find refuge in your home.
They begin to open up and share more things about their life prior to living at your house.
More than you will ever want to know…...
Forgive the birth parent.
Actually don't just forgive them….respect them.
Sin is sin.
Sin is ugly.
Sin is dirty.
Different sins control different people.
******This just in………. Most birth parents aren't christians, seriously I know this is hard for you to believe.
But really they aren't.
They are controlled by the sin in their lives not the savior in their hearts.
You can't expect a non-christian to act like a christian.
Shoot! Most Christians don't act like christians should….and here you go expecting someone who doesn't know Jesus to not sin.
What evidence in your life could someone use to convict you of being a Christian if it were illegal?
Pray for the birth parent.
Look for ministry opportunities to minister to them.
Pray for them everyday.
If you don't, your heart will become dark and ugly toward them. Don't let this happen.
You may be the ONLY JESUS they ever get to see.
So don't be a bad representation.
This is hard. This is real hard. Harder than you think.
Not in your own strength but by the power of Christ living in you.
5. Say "Yes" more than you say "No"This one takes practice.
When these children come to your home….It is probably going to be culture shock.
When they start asking for things, try to say "Yes" at least as many times as you say "NO".
Choose your NO's wisely.
In my past parenting life, we only wore certain clothes and certain shoes to certain places at certain times.
I would quietly condemn others for not being socially conformed to my standards of practice.
As of recent…I was reminded by a dear friend how much that has changed over the past year.
If everyone has bathed within 24 hours
(48 hours has of recent become the maximum time allotment depending on stink factor),
has shoes on
has clothes on…. we are good.
We do try to brush everyone's hair and teeth at least once a day.
We no longer have a pair of shoes for every occasion
Walmart clothes -VS- playing outside clothes (They are the same!)
Every female is no longer required to have a hair accessory prior to leaving the house.
Dresses are no longer required for females to go to church.
Most pierced ears have grown up.
If you want to purple shorts/purple tutu and red cowgirl boots to the mall….well I just really don't care.
A wonderful friend of mine taught me a few years ago….that when picking a battle ask yourself this simple question:
In Light of ETERNITY Does it MATTER?
If your answer is yes, then the battle is worth fighting. If your answer is NO, then just LET IT GO!
6. Love hurts.See #3
Every child is worth the pain that is cost to love them.
So LOVE without borders.
Put your guard down.
Stop guarding your family.
Stop guarding your heart.
Love them like they have never known before.
Let God protect you, your family, your heart, their hearts….All you have to do is Obey God and HE will take care of the rest.
It is the MOST important thing that you can give them.
7. Pray a lot.This is listed as last because if you have forgotten everything else…..I want this one to stick with you.
Don't forget to pray.
Pray about everything.
Walk in a spirit of prayer.
Pray for a parking space. I do.Pray for the children who have come through your home.
Pray for the children in your home.
Pray for their parents, that they would see Jesus and come to know Him as Lord and savior.
Pray that God would protect their hearts, their minds and their bodies.
Pray out loud for them, so that they know you are praying for them.
Pray for provision, He is faithful when we are faithless.
Pray for Godly friendships, because you are going to need them.
Pray that God would give you wisdom and discernment, sometimes you won't know why.
Pray that God would give you mercy and grace, you will need to share this.
Pray that God will forgive you when you fail, because you are going to fail.
Pray before taking a placement.
Pray before giving.
Pray before going.
Pray about how God would use you to minister.
Pray about everything.