Why I Became a Foster Dad

 
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My wife came to me one day and asked me to consider foster parenting. My gut instinct was to  immediately say no. I felt a strong need to guard my children. A foster child seemed like a threat to them. A threat to their time with me, and possibly their innocence. Then I began to think about my time. [No way, man!] I told Stephanie that I wasn't interested - And that was that. Or so I thought.

I started to loose sleep. I wrestled with the idea daily. God worked on softening my heart over a period of months. To the point of feeling excited about the opportunity. I finally agreed to becoming a foster dad.  The day we started to fill out an application we received  a call from CPS (Child Protective Services). The person on the other end of the line asking if we would take in our niece. We did. It was a kinship placement there was no need for a foster license. God Had used the previous months to prepare my heart for this moment. We instantly recognized how God had orchestrated all of this.

My niece came to us at the age of four months. She was with us for six months before she went back to her mother. Letting go of her was difficult - But my wife was now pregnant with our third child, a boy and we shifted our focus on preparation for his birth. We picked the name Josiah. Ryan and Bell anticipated the arrival of a new brother.

My wife had a late miscarriage. Our hearts were broken. In dealing with the loss we forgot about fostering for awhile. Time passed and the idea of fostering eased back into our lives. After a stack of paperwork and several classes it was a matter of days before we were to be licensed to foster and adopt. Just as we were becoming official we got another call from CPS. They asked us to again take in our niece along with her new baby brother. Again seeing God’s timing in this we agreed.

The children showed obvious signs of trauma. Our seven month old nephew constantly wide eyed. Our two year old niece struggled for control. We were up against one of the hardest times of our lives. Our niece would throw a tantrum for hours. All we could do was hold her as she screamed in our ear and tried to push us away.

It felt that the energy required to parent them was ten fold anything ever required by my own children. As months passed they both settled in. Our nephew now exhibited signs that he felt safe. Our niece had learned to regulate herself. It looked like we might even have the opportunity to adopt. That didn't work out. They went back after eleven months.

My wife and I are waiting for the next call. We could have someone new joining us for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. I am both fearful and excited by that. Fearful of the sacrifice required but excited at the opportunity to share God’s blessings on my life.

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 18:18-20)

When Jesus says teaching here you may have an image of a classroom setting or a pastor sharing a sermon. While some of us may be called to teach in a formal setting. We are all called to teach relationally. As I look back on the most effective teachers of my life they were people who demonstrated the subject relationally. 

We were created in the image of God. A reflection of our maker. When sin came into the world the mirror was broken but not destroyed. We ourselves are evidence for God’s grace and mercy. That is why I can joyfully share my dark past with perfect strangers. The story doesn't end with me abusing drugs and taking advantage of others.

The real story starts with God redeeming me despite those things. It is perfectly good to formally teach the Gospel - We should. We should also relationally share the Gospel. God uses his work in our lives to reveal himself to others. And what better way to teach someone about the gospel than to adopt them into our family. Just as God has adopted us into his kingdom. even if for a short time. 

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