Guest Author: Shelby Doss
After months of preparing our home, stocking supplies, filling countless pages of paperwork, welcoming strangers into our home, delving into very personal parts of our life, a month worth of training, and lots of prayer, we finally received an email that read ‘you’re on the list.’ Now we waited and prayed some more. About four weeks after we became licensed foster parents we received a phone call while we were at church camp. There was a little girl only 6 months old in need of a home. That’s all we needed to hear. The next day we drove home and met our daughter. Just like that we became a family. The next year was filled with doctor’s visits, x-rays, court hearings, social worker visits, and filling out form after form. We were thrilled with the highs of little victories that were slowly guiding us forward to what we wanted so desperately, but also had to grapple with the fact that something horrible had happened in order for us to be together. Someone had failed. Failed so miserably that a child, a baby, who had spent more time in the womb than out, was left alone and unprotected. But she’s not alone—there are thousands of children that share a similar story.
We live in a very small town but during the first year of fostering we had 9 different children in our home. This is not counting placements that we had to turn away due to space or other circumstances beyond our control. There are over 397,122 children in foster care across the United States. Each week there are nearly 60,000 children who are being abused or neglected. These are children. Innocent and helpless children. Who, with the proper love and guidance, can not only become productive citizens but also be introduced to the lifesaving Gospel.
So where is the church in all of this? There is without a doubt a need that must be filled by someone. As Christians we speak a lot about abortion and the absolute horror of murdering an innocent gift from the Lord—as we should. We should raise our voices and cry out for justice for those who can’t. But, sometimes we forget about those same precious children once they have arrived safely. They’re here, but not all are protected. What now? We should be crying out just as loud for these children. The children that don’t have a voice, don’t have a home, don’t have safety. The children that need something so basic as the human touch and compassion. There is a desperate need for someone to stand in the gap. James 1:27 very plainly teaches who those individuals need to be: Christians. We are to care for those who have no one. James specifically mentions two groups: the fatherless and widows.
Again, where is the Church? What can we do? I understand that not everyone can become a foster parent/adoptive parent but, there are many who can and I strongly encourage you to honestly consider making this commitment. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be willing. But of course there are other things the church can do to stand alongside those who are ‘in the trenches’.
First, pray. Pray hard for these families who are navigating through the foster care system. Pray for the biological families, that they can be reached and introduced to the Gospel. Become a licensed respite provider. A respite provider is someone that is certified to care for foster children in case the foster parents have to take an unexpected trip and the children cannot go. Or if there is a medical emergency and the family needs the children to be cared for. As foster parents you cannot have just anyone babysit. Maybe you have foster families at your local congregation. If so, offer to make them dinner or drop off a gift card when they receive a new placement. As you can imagine the most hectic and exciting time is when you get a call and 30 minutes later you have a frightened child sitting in your living room. As foster parents our main focus is on gaining their trust and making them feel safe. Often times the routine tasks become stressful during those first few days and having someone simply bring dinner is a huge blessing.
There is definitely a need. A need for the church to extend their hand and help, not only these children but also their families. Reaching out to these kids also means reaching out to their parents. Helping them escape the hold that Satan has on them. In almost every case, sin has played a part. Extend the love that Christ showed us when we were drowning in sin, show them the abundant life. It very likely could save their life.
If you would be interested in contacting Shelby about further information on fostering, adoption, or their story, please feel free to email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org