Do you remember the story of Hannah in the Old Testament? It is the story of a foster mother. Most people hear the words “foster child” and the first thing that comes to mind is a story they’ve heard in the movies. The reality is for many children fostering is a way of life. Check out these stats: “In the U.S. 397,122 children are living without permanent families in the foster care system. Of these 101,666 are eligible for adoption, but nearly 32% of these children will wait over three years in foster care before being adopted” (http://ccainstitute.org/).
Contrary to popular opinion, fostering is not a nightmarish experience. While there may be some foster parents out there who use their children as a means to a check, most of us are genuinely doing our best to care for the children assigned to us. And some of us are seeking to eliminate both of these statistics by adopting the children we are allowed to adopt out of the system and creating a forever home for them.
Hannah prayed (groaned would be a better word) for a child and God answered her prayer. She promised God she would give her child back to Him if He would just allow her the privilege of caring.
Most of us parents can grasp Hannah’s heart at this point. We understand the idea behind giving our children to the Lord. However, most of us would agree that Hannah (and Abraham) went too far when she carried her son back to Shiloh and left him with Eli, the priest. But not the foster parent.
We are not hard hearted and neither was Hannah. We love these children just as much as you love those that came from your own genes. We cry bitter tears, just as you would, when these children are removed from our homes. But we understand one thing: these children belong to the Lord. We may not be able to hold them for a lifetime, but we can hold them for a moment.
Hannah’s child, Samuel, grew up to be one of the greatest figures in Israel’s history. Of the 397,122 children in the system right now, is it possible God has called many of them to greatness? Is it possible He loves each of them as He loves His very own Son, Jesus? Is it possible He expects His church to reach out to them in the same way we reach out to the children that bear our last name week after week? YES.
Numbers are not the focus of this piece. People are. I am not trying to make a bad statistic better. I’m hoping you will read this and see the face of a child who needs a home. This is not a sappy commercial with the picture of a hungry child. This is a call for Christians to get up off our behinds and put an end to a system that is broken at best. This is a call to action.
You say “I have too much to do already.” Maybe you need to prioritize better. “I could never take the risk they’d be removed from my home after I’d had them for a while.” It’s a much better risk than the one they are facing. “How would my kids react to other children in the home?” They’ll probably follow your lead. “How will I afford to feed, clothe, and care for more mouths?” The same way you’d feed, clothe, and care for another mouth that bore your last name.
Christian, it’s really not that hard. If we wake up each day with the reality that our life is not our own, we must consider the possibility that Christ wants us in the foster system. Right now, this is as close as I can get to a leper colony. I seem to remember Jesus spending time with that sect of outcasts. I believe it’s possible Jesus wants us to pitch our tents here, too.
Hannah gave Samuel back so the Lord could use him in ways not possible if he had remained in the home. God gave Jesus back so He could use Him in ways not possible if He had remained in the home. God gave us back, too. He adopted us (aren’t you glad!), made us full-fledged children, and then gave us an allotted time span to do life here on earth. Why? So He could use us in ways not possible if He had immediately taken us home. He gave us back. What will you do with your second go around?