Updated: Jul 8
I was invited to speak on a podcast by Fierce Freedom a little while ago. When asked about advice I would give to future foster parents I mentioned the importance of loving foster children even though they may not have the capacity to love you in return. Foster children are in care because of abuse or neglect, not through any fault of their own. They are MOST vulnerable to the traps of addictions or trafficking. Due to the trauma a child has experienced they may not be able to trust adults for a long time. All the more reason to pour love into them.
Both of our foster children ended up staying with us permanently. But the goal of foster care is normally for biological parents to rehabilitate, recover and restore their rights as parents so they can have safe, healthy families. This is where it gets the hardest.
To love the children in your care as if they were born to you, and love their bio parents just as much in order to help them recover. It means filling a cup that might have otherwise remained empty. Sometimes this means pouring so much into them that you feel like you have emptied yourself because sometimes this takes months or even years before the children are able to return to their bio home.
But isn't emptying ourselves what we are called to do? Isn't that what Jesus did for us? Sacrificial love that can't be paid back. The joy is knowing you did everything you could, and more, because of the power poured into you through the Holy Spirit. Knowing that a parent who once was struggling is now on the road to healing, surrounded with support to help them parent successfully. Whether you have had their child(ren) 3 months or 3 years or more. The longer you've loved, the harder to let go.
Why is it so hard to let go? Because - at least in my short experience with the twins we were in the process of adopting several years ago - we take possession of these children. We are afraid their parents will fail or that they won't do things the way we did. We pour so much of ourselves into these kids! We become attached - how can we not? God gave us hearts with the potential for huge compassion. We are human and believe these precious children are OURS, and in a sense they are.. but they really they belong to GOD. We have to trust that God will CONTINUE to pour into HIS precious children as He did when they were with us.
Children are treasures. God's most precious gifts. Our future leaders, and our RESPONSIBILITY to raise with love. Our responsibility to mentor those who don't know how to parent due to their own traumatic childhood. Our responsibility to empower and protect vulnerable children from predators who seek to take advantage of them. Our responsibility to love and let go when the time is right even though it is humanly impossible.
With GOD, ALL things are possible (Matthew 19:26). If you empty yourself of LOVE you will find that, incredibly, you will be filled back up again. Pressed down, shaken together and running over. Luke 6:38.
There are thousands of children who need us to get attached to them. If you can't be a foster parent can you mentor a struggling parent? Can you be a Big Brother or Big Sister? Can you volunteer time to babysit for a foster parent or clean their house or bring a meal once a week or month? Can you give financially to help cover expenses (foster parents often spend much more than they receive)? Can you pray? Can you advocate for a foster child as a CASA or encourage others to love children by your example?
Can you sit with a grieving foster parent after she or he has been emptied and be the Lord's hands and feet to help fill them back up?
What is God whispering in your ear when you ask Him how you can fill a cup that might have otherwise remained empty?
Listen to this episode by Fierce Freedom to hear more about how you can make a difference in the life of a child.