So many of us wander from one path to another during our lives. We fret over this class and that party. We consider this college and that job. We choose this friend and that home. We like this food and do that activity. We wonder over the power of our choices while trying to explain away the fateful coincidences that often define our lives. To different degrees, we see these same considerations and possible paths in the lives of those we encounter. This transcendent perspective is an amazing part of our human experience that has allowed generations to identify with the stories, histories, and novels that make up our culture, tell us our past, and speak to our futures. These decisions, these possibilities, these stories are wonderful markers in our lives that are made possible by the community which has fostered us to this or that point. And yet, right now there are hundreds of thousands of kids who have had this world and these possibilities torn apart.
I am speaking about the approximately 400,000 children who are currently in foster care. These kids did not choose this or that – they were torn from their homes and sent out to strangers and strange places. Blame their parents, the institution, human nature, social sins – I do not care. Foster children are in need of relationship regardless of the reason they have ended up where they are. Worries of acceptance, food and clothing, being removed again, never seeing a loved one again, abuse, neglect, new schools, etc. make future considerations of this and that path a bleak and nightmarish ordeal. Yes, there are amazing success stories for these kids (and I pray for this every day) when a family and their community rally around these kids to create a loving arena that allows the child to feel and live until reunification or transition into a new permanent home. Yet for far too many this is not a reality. Take the following statistics into consideration:
- The average stay in foster care is 1 year for a child
- Roughly 1 in 2 foster kids do not graduate high school
- Only 3% of foster kids graduate college
- 40% of foster kids aging out of the system (18) will be homeless within one year
- Many foster kids statistically will end up having their kids in the system as well.
- Every year kids have their parents rights terminated, but for some reason or another do not have a permanent home. Their profiles are compiled into an adoption profile for families to peruse and choose who gets life in their homes. (I know this sounds sarcastic, I am blown away by those families who choose life for these kids. I am just angry that this plight has so many visible, uncared for victims in the wealthiest country on earth). Please pray for these beautiful kids if you choose to enter Indiana’s version of the site.
- Many counties do not have enough families for placement to the point where kids are placed many miles from home.
The causes behind this darker side of society are multi-faceted, complex, and many layered. They are worth discussing and combating. I am not calling for this here and now. Right now, you, yes you reading this post can enter into relationship with those kids around you who have some brokenness in their lives. Yes, I am specifically talking about foster kids, but right now you may only know some kids at church or nieces and nephews or a kid down the street who have lost a parent to death, divorce, drugs, or some other diversion. If God is still leaning on your heart, breaking it for these kids, then bear your soul, sign up for foster care and be ready for an adventure that will change your life. If that is too much for you right now, consider becoming a respite/emergency care house. This can allow you to give reprieve to this overloaded system by taking foster children for short term periods. If you are over 18, you can go out and get a background check so that you can babysit the kids while the foster parents run errands or get out for a much needed date night. If you are more interested in the legal proceedings, consider becoming a CASA (please peruse this site for more information ). At the very least, please take some time to pray for all of those involved in the system.
May is foster care awareness month. The picture from their website speaks truth to this process. If you get involved in foster care, you will be changing the future of that little one and this birth parent…
It will not all be wonderful success stories. There will be hardships. Your time will not be your own and you possessions may get broken. Sleep may come and go. Tears will flow. Yet, as with most problems that we allow ourselves to see…if you do not work at it, no one will. It has been an awesome thing to have our church and extended families rain their love down upon our small Indiana home, and we are so grateful. I am still amazed at the journey Jen and I have been on since she heard God’s voice through the following lyrics and answered His call:
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause
It is my prayer that many more will set their feet upon this adventurous trail.