(On this day last year, I announced on my blog that I was officially starting the process to adopt a child with Down syndrome. I would have NEVER imagined that a short 71/2 months later that baby would be born and become mine.)
I know why you think you can't do it, because I used to think it too.
And I know why we think that way.
One reason is that we have convinced ourselves that we are not "called". Our Western churches teach us that we are required to show up for church each week, and give money to support that church. We are required to be "good people" so we can make it to heaven. The rest, we are told, is based on "being called".
No need to go on a mission trip if you are not called.
No need to help the poor unless you feel called.
No reason to reach out to widows if you don't feel called.
Worst of all we have been taught that we can spread the Gospel just by our actions or inviting someone to church. If you don't feel called to open your mouth and spread the Good News, then that is cool. Leave it to the missionaries and the preachers who feel "called" to share the Gospel.
That mindset is where I believe our attitude towards adoption and foster care was born. It is optional. It is not my problem unless I feel called. Leave it to the people who do feel called.
The second reason is very simple. Americans have an idea of what raising children is supposed to look like, and adding kids from hard places into that mix will just plain mess things up.
Newborn babies have to look like this:
But, once you allow God to open your eyes to the fact that these are real children we are talking about, you will be changed. You realize that every baby doesn't have to have a closet full of clothes to survive. That kids who share a room will likely learn a lot of life lessons from it and be better adults because of it. That growing up in a family that lives out the Gospel by giving their comforts away to help those in need will change your children for the better.
I have talked a lot about adoption in the past, so now I want to focus on foster care, because that is what God is speaking to my heart today. Here are some facts:
- There are 423,773 children in the U.S. foster care system; 114,556 of these children are available for adoption. Their birth parent’s legal rights have been permanently terminated and children are left without a family.
- More children become available for adoption each year than are adopted. In 2009, 69,947 children had parental rights terminated by the courts, yet only 57,466 were adopted.
- Children often wait three years or more to be adopted, move three or more times in foster care and often are separated from siblings. The average age of waiting children is 8 years old.
- Last year, 29,471 children turned 18 and left the foster care system without an adoptive family.
- Adopting from foster care is affordable. Most child welfare agencies cover the costs of home studies and court fees, and provide post-adoption subsidies. Thousands of employers offer financial reimbursement and paid leave for employees who adopt and Federal and/or state adoption tax credits are available to most families.
- Every child is adoptable. Many children in foster care have special needs. All of them deserve the chance to grow up in a safe, loving, permanent home. Support and other post-adoption resources are available.
- Adopting from foster care is permanent. Once a child is adopted out of foster care, the birth parents cannot attempt to claim them or fight in court for their return. A family formed through foster care adoption is forever.
- According to a National Adoption Attitudes Survey commissioned by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, 63 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of adoption and 78 percent think more should be done to encourage adoption.
- Nearly 40 percent of American adults, or 81.5 million people, have considered adopting a child, according to the National Adoption Attitudes Survey. If just one in 500 of these adults adopted, every waiting child in foster care would have a permanent family.
consider foster care
Pray about it and see where God leads you. Open your mind to the FACTS. Let it sink in that these are real kids and they are suffering. If Christians don't meet the need, who will?
Remember, our job as Christians is not to coast it out in this life, collecting as much stuff as we can along the way. It is not to create the perfect looking family. Our job is to be the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth. Based on the statistics above, I would say we are doing a pretty crummy job.
Please read the blog post below, written by a friend of mine who was adopted from the foster care system 30 years ago. You can also click the second link and look at the faces of these real children who need someone to stand up and care for them.