Growing up in my family, the running joke about me was that I would run an orphanage one day. Foster-care was never mentioned, but my heart has always been in adoption. From a very young age, I believed that I would adopt a child one day. However, as I got older, the call to adopt became less pronounced. I knew I would adopt one day but until that time I couldn’t do anything to help the orphan.
Now I know that I can help the orphan.
In March of 2016, I went to work for The Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home as a Foster/Adoption Specialist. The old fire from my youth re-ignited. I began to realize that God’s calling for me wasn’t just for adoption but the foster-care system in our country.
In the short time since my hiring, I have learned a great deal of information about foster-care and adoption.
There are currently over 500,000 children in foster-care in the U.S. Over 4,700 of these children live in my state, Louisiana. These children could be the children that live next door. They probably go to school with your children. They are probably in your church. These children are “modern-day orphans” because their family either can’t or won’t take care of them.
What I found to be true is that there are many misconceptions about foster-care. Many people are unaware of the foster-care system and all that it entails. I believe a lack of knowledge keeps the majority of people from involvement in foster-care. I hope this blog post gives you some basic ideas and helpful information about foster-care.
Four common misconceptions about foster-care:
Misconception #1 – All Foster-care kids are bad.
- These children are in foster-care due to no fault of their own. They are there because the family is unable to meet their needs or their family home is unsafe. The vast majority of these children have experienced abuse and/or neglect at the hands of their caregivers.
- Many of these children have behaviors considered difficult based on trauma they experienced and a lack of teaching.
- What if you were in their situation? Would you be in the same situation you are in if you experienced the same trauma these children experienced? I know I wouldn’t.
Misconception #2 – Adopting a child and Foster-care go hand in hand
- Adoption and foster-care should be viewed as two separate things.
- If you choose to foster a child, the goal will always be reunification. Sometimes the goal of reunification changes because it is not possible in that child’s situation. However, over half of these children will return back home with their families.
Misconception #3 – Foster-care parents get paid for their services.
- Foster-care parents receive a board rate each month. The rate is calculated according to the number of days the child stayed in their home the previous month.
- This board rate is nothing compared to the cost of raising a child day in and day out. This foster board rate pads the basic expenses the family takes on with adding a child to their home.
- Becoming a foster-care parent is a service to the community. Do families receive amazing rewards in establishing a loving relationship with a child who is desperate need of a family? Yes! Families can also become the forever family of a child whose parents’ rights are terminated. The best outcome is when a family views this as a ministry, giving everything and expecting nothing in return.
Misconception #4 – I could never love a child and then let him/her go.
- Loving a child and letting him go can be the most self-less, Christ-like, and kingdom-impacting thing you can do.
- One thing to think about is what if you didn’t do this? What would happen to this child? I know this would be incredibly difficult, but if the church doesn’t help the orphan, who will?
Everyone is not called to foster-care or adoption.
But we are all called to do something. So how can you help the orphan?
Maybe you could:
- Be a support family or prayer partner for a foster-family.
- Be a voice in your church to bring awareness to the issue.
- Provide meals for a family in your church that just welcomed a foster-child in their home.
The list is endless. We can all do something to help the orphan. This is not a neat and easy ministry, but it is a necessary ministry. We, the people of God, the church, must stand up and be active participants in. Remember that God cares for the orphans.
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this:
to visit orphans and widows in their trouble,
and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
Taylor Draughn, M.A., LPC, LMFT