When you hear people talk about foster care and adoption, you often hear about a broken system, damaged children and a whole litany of all the challenges, difficulties and reasons to stay away rather than get involved. At Encourage we see the heartache our foster parents experience when they grieve the loss of separation from a foster child they loved as their own. I am most inspired by the families who persevere and press forward, take on another placement and once again love and care for another child whose future is uncertain. It is often this uncertainty that weighs foster parents down. Not knowing if a child will be in your home for three months, a year, or forever, is tough.
Our goal in child welfare is always to reunite a child with their biological families. Reunification is a beautiful thing. Adoption is a beautiful thing, yet it is also born out of a significant loss. As Christians, we’ve just celebrated Easter. To walk away from the challenges and not move forward, is to leave Jesus in the tomb.
The hope in Jesus is that there is restoration for each and every one of us. For the parent who hurts their child. For the foster parent that wants to quit. For the child whose behaviors makes them seem most unlovable. There is nothing that brings me greater joy than to help a foster and adoptive family through the struggle of foster care and see them come out on the other side.
In the last year, I have had the blessing of working with a few families who had just about closed their doors or had been told by other agencies that they wouldn’t have more children placed in their homes. But I think the hope we have calls us to do more. In the summer of 2018, we accepted a family who had experience fostering/adopting but had been through a challenging situation. Since they have worked with our team, they have fostered four more children and were chosen this week to be placed with a little girl who has medical needs and is currently available for adoption. If they hadn’t become an Encourage foster family, they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to love and care for these children.
Being able to witness the healing and restoration of a foster family is such a privilege. While we minister to the children in our care, we minister to the families as well. I love to see our Encourage foster and adoptive families experience success and know that our staff is there to support them along the journey. When I think about foster care, I don’t see a broken system or damaged children. I see the possibility.
I’ve been a social worker for over ten years, and I am still passionate about children in foster care not just surviving but thriving in our foster homes. Our strength lies in our ability to believe in something greater than ourselves and that each and every foster parent, biological family and foster child has value and meaning beyond ourselves.