Obviously, foster care is something I am very passionate about. I've been interested in it for several years and the more I heard the stories, heard the statistics and encountered the system I knew it was something I was called to take part in. But I know that's not the same for everyone. I do believe that the church is called to take part in "orphan care" and there has been a bigger "movement" to do so lately. But that doesn't mean everyone is called to adopt or foster. So I thought I'd share a few ways that people can be involved if they are interested in helping these kiddos but aren't in a place to become foster or adoptive parents.
1. PRAY. Every list starts here. Because this need is bigger than any one of us. It is bigger than any church or community can feasibly handle. So we take it to the One who can handle all of our burdens. We bring their burdens to Him. We pray for the kids who are in the system. We pray for the kids who are awaiting adoption. We pray for the caseworkers, judges, CPS, CASA, and everyone else who is involved in making decisions about the future of these kiddos. We pray for biological families--that the cycles of poverty, abuse, and dysfunction would be broken and that they can be equipped to parent their kids. There are a whole lot of things to pray for. I follow The Forgotten Initiative on Facebook and now Instagram and they will frequently post different ways to be praying. This Sunday is designated as "Orphan Sunday" and there is a prayer vigil set up where people can sign up for different time spots to spend praying over all of these needs.
2. LEARN. Another way to get involved is to learn about foster care and adoption. Learn the statistics. Learn the stories. As we hear the stories of these kids, a lot of the misconceptions we have are broken down and we see the great need in front of us. Learn about trauma-informed care and the attachment and connection needs that typically accompany kids who are coming from hard places. Again, I get the weekly blogs from The Forgotten Initiative and they often have really good posts about all aspects of foster care. They also link to lots of other people's posts. Just yesterday I read through a whole series of blogs about Adoption and the Church that looks at several different aspects of how the church can get involved.
3. SUPPORT. I read a post last week about how one of the reasons not everyone is called to foster or adopt is because every family needs a huge support system and needs people who are not exhausted and weary from this battle. I loved this post because it also went through a whole lot of practical ways that this family's church has been a support to them during their journey--things that seem simple and things that seem hard, they've walked alongside this family as they reach out to kids from trauma. There are a ton of ways to support families--prayer, meals, becoming approved babysitters, being a listening ear, learning about and understanding the world around them-- there are a lot of ways to be involved in this cause beyond fostering or adopting.
There are lots of really great resources out there for ways to get involved in foster care and orphan care. Several posts that give practical ways such as this one and this one. I just wanted to share a few ways that I have seen people get involved. As it is something I'm passionate about, it can be hard when everyone around me isn't passionate about it, but I know that's not a realistic expectation to put on people and I know that there are a whole lot of things that Jesus wants us to be passionate about and I have a lot of awesome friends and family who are pursuing those. It's also easy to get overwhelmed with the bigness of it all. There are hundreds of thousands of kids that need foster homes. There are also a thousand other needs that we can help meet in other missions, but we can't do it all. One of the biggest things that God has been pressing into me over the past year is the idea of just taking one step. Sometimes I worry so much that I make the right decision and take the right step that I take a really long time to act, and sometimes I think He just wants me to take a step in obedience and know that He is going with me as I seek to follow His will. One of my favorite books I've read this year is One: Impossible Starts Here. The point is that there are a whole lot of steps that we can take to follow God, and it starts with one. Helping one child. Reaching out to one ministry. So we are taking a step to welcome a child into our home. We can't help all of the kids who need a home in this city, but we can help one (or maybe even two). So we're going to do that. If you feel a pulling to get involved in this same mission, then above are a few ways to do that. If you feel pulled to pursue a different calling, then go and do that. For each of us it starts with one step. What is one step God is asking you to take?