This coming Sunday is what’s known as “Orphan Sunday.” When we think of orphans, we often get sad for a moment, feel bad for them, and then move on with our lives. This is why orphans are the “forgotten children.” I have been this person. I have lived my comfortable life and ignored these children. Following is the story of how God broke my heart for kids in foster care.
God first touched my heart for the fatherless when I was in college. I began to work with a man named David Parsons, where I learned that fatherless children are more likely to join a gang, drop out of school, abuse drugs and alcohol, spend time in jail, etc. I am forever thankful for that ministry and the role it played in opening my eyes to the needs of these children. Through this ministry, I met children in foster care and God softened my heart to the idea of adoption. The spark that God placed in my heart during that season never left me and, a few years ago, God radically fueled that flame.
The desire to adopt never left me, but my plan was to have biological children first and consider adopting when my biological kids were older. One day, while working with David Parsons again, my wife met a fellow volunteer helping in a clothing closet. This volunteer had just finished the licensing process to become a foster parent. She openly shared the desperate need for foster parents and the process that her family had been through to do something about it. We will always be grateful for her. My wife came home and shared her burden and desire to start the process of becoming a foster parent. This caught me completely off guard in that it did not fit with the plan I had. We had one biological child that was only one year old. Pursuing foster care or adoption at this point did not seem logical. While my wife and I were not on the same page, I could clearly see that the Holy Spirit was working in her and that is not something to be ignored. We began to pray. Over the next several weeks, we prayed together and we prayed separately. The Lord gave me a peace about beginning the foster licensing process, knowing that it did not mean we had to accept the placement of a child into our home anytime soon. We decided to pursue licensing with a private foster agency. Our agency worker came to our home once a week to train us to be foster parents. We had weekly meetings in our home for a few months and a couple trainings outside of the home. Toward the end of the in-home training, God made it clear to me that we did not need to wait. There were children waiting. As we finished our training, we were given a long list of “preferences” to choose from regarding children we would be interested in welcoming into our home. My preference was one child younger than our biological son with no mental health issues, disabilities, etc. Those of you who know our family already know that God drastically changed my heart. Our agency worker mentioned two boys to us that were waiting for an adoptive family and would likely fit into our household very well. Due to various circumstances, these children were not placed in our home, but they played a very important role. They caused me to realize that I had a desire to keep siblings together. We then received a phone call about two more little boys. They were 3 and 5 and had been in foster care for over a year. They were in need of an adoptive home. We spent the next few days praying about these boys and my wife and I felt that we should learn more about them as we were interested in becoming their forever family. We were not yet licensed at this time, and spent the next 3 months praying that God’s will would be done in these children’s lives. As soon as were licensed, we were able to meet these two little boys that had already captured our hearts. On the day we met them, I was nervous and excited. I did not know what to expect. I didn’t know how to act. I didn’t know how to respond. The moment we met them there was no question that these boys were supposed to be a part of our lives. I was overwhelmed by a peace that I did not expect.
As we began the process of fostering these boys, things were not always smooth. I was met with reservations from friends and family that were difficult to navigate. We experienced extreme behavioral issues. I would often ask myself, “is this something I’m meant to do? Can I handle this?” The overwhelming response in my heart was always “yes. These kids are worth it.” I have never felt the presence of the Holy Spirit as strongly as I have since I have had the privilege of parenting these boys. The strength, patience, and comfort that He provides is unexplainable. I have never felt more in the center of God’s will for my life than I have as a foster parent. The days may be hard, but seeing hope restored in their little lives is so worth it. Those who were uncomfortable with our choice to become foster parents now support us. Our boys have been with us for 20 months and we are expecting to sign adoption papers next month.
Number of kids in the system in North Carolina: approximately 11,000
Number of Currently Adoptable kids: Approx. 2,500 in North Carolina, approx. 110,000 in the U.S.
Number of kids to age out of the system in NC without a family each year: approximately 500
Percentage of foster kids that go to college: approx. 10% attend college, approx. 3% graduate college.
Number of churches in North Carolina: 17,625
This last statistic stands out to me because it shows that the Church absolutely can end the foster care crisis.
“Why wait for a call when we have a command.”
“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
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.”-Isaiah 1:17
“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”-Psalm 82:3-4
The Bible is very clear that the desire of God is for the oppressed, the least, and the fatherless to be taken care of. These passages and others like them show us the need for us to stand up for the weak and oppressed in our society. We are commanded to be the ones who stand up and bridge the gap for those who are weak and vulnerable. If the church isn’t going to do it, who will?
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, he predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the beloved.”-Eph. 1:3-6
Throughout the New Testament, we see the idea of God adopting us into His family. Scripture is clear that we were the downtrodden, the weak, and the oppressed, yet God, in His infinite wisdom, reached out to us and brought us into His family as His children. For me, this was the most convicting idea in Scripture for becoming a foster/adoptive parent because it forced me to recognize my helpless state apart from Christ. I thought, “How could I not do what Christ has done for me?” I felt that it would be selfish for me to enjoy the blessing of being in God’s family while there are kids out there who do not know a Heavenly Father or an earthly father. I acknowledged that it was sinful for me not to make an effort to reach these children.
How To Get Involved:
Hopefully you understand that, as a Christian, you cannot ignore the orphan crisis. The question is, what level does God desire for you to be involved. The following are my recommendations.
-Adopt/foster. If you’re serious about taking the next step of becoming a temporary loving home or a forever family for a child, I recommend contacting Children’s Hope Alliance in Winston-Salem (they have locations across North Carolina). There are many private foster agencies in our area as well as your county’s department of social services. Much prayer should go into your choice. Children’s Hope Alliance is where our family has found the most support. ADOPTING THROUGH FOSTER CARE IN THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA IS FREE.
-Advocate. Another way to get involved in making a difference in a child’s life is becoming a Guardian Ad Litem. A Guardian Ad Litem is a person the court appoints to investigate what solutions would be in the best interest of the child. On average, a Guardian Ad Litem volunteers about 8 hours a month. For more information on the process of becoming a Guardian Ad Litem, go to volunteerforgal.org.
-Volunteer. There are many volunteer opportunities in the world of foster care/adoption. Contacting a local agency and asking how you can help can lead to many opportunities to serve. Our youth group at GVBC visits the Baptist Children’s Home once every month to hang out with the resident kids and show them the love of Jesus. Our foster agency, Children’s Hope Alliance, now holds foster parent training's in our church building once a month and would love for someone to volunteer to prepare food for training's. The following website can help you navigate volunteer opportunities. There are SO many needs. You can always do something! https://www.bchfamily.org/involved/volunteer
-Donate. Foster agencies are always in need of financial support. They often provide help or foster families as well as group homes for children who do not have a foster family available. There are also ministries such as IamJ3, which support foster children and their families. IamJ3’s website is https://www.iamj3.org/ if you would like to learn more about their ministry.
Educate: Be a person who is regularly sharing the desperate needs in the world of foster care/adoption with others.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my wife or myself at any time. We are passionate about foster care and adoption and would love to speak with you.