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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Christians & Foster Care & Adoption - The Hardships - Part 1

"....the reason we chose to go the adoption route was because I didn't think my heart could take it if they left us."

I can understand this sentiment from a friend, and I think that I would feel the same way.
That family chose the adoption route with siblings.

Fostering children has its rewards from what I have been told, but  I can see it isn't a picnic.
Punishment is regulated by the state which can make discipline more difficult.
Taking babies in so that you will then have to give them up is a very sad thing, although I know of a state where a baby may be adopted pretty close to birth.
The adoption process in California is daunting -  whether starting with fostering and then deciding to adopt - or with the plan to adopt from the beginning. 
Clearly, foster parenting is not for everyone, but it is something that many Christians should consider.  Not everybody is strong enough emotionally, and not everyone is physically able to care for kids.
This is what I see as an outsider.

Within recent history, I've learned how a native tribe in the U.S. swoops in to claim children with the slightest native blood from that tribe to place them wherever they so choose (ignoring what is really best for the child when they already have excellent foster parents that they have been living with and that are ready to adopt them).
This happened to a family in California nearly two years ago.
Lexi Taken From Her Home

Children do need love and the gospel influence of loving people, and so I realize that there is a great benefit to the kids to be in a godly home.
Christians are still able to be involved at this point in the U.S., and that's a good thing.
I have heard that there are some pretty terrible foster situations (not just in the U.S.), so these kids really do need love, patience, and sheltering.

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
James 1:27 NASB

A friend in regards to the difficulties of adoption:

"The system can be slow in regards to adoption and you aren't always kept in the loop, you also have many visits (1 for each child) a month as well as other check-ins by various social workers."

The following is from Jason Marianna highlighting the hardships of foster parenting.

Some negatives: 
The system.  
The state-run, culturally informed, wholly secular, and wickedly administered system is easily the worst thing about being a foster parent. 
Individuals within the system range from wonderful to abhorrent, but the system has a way of reducing everyone to the lowest common denominator.  
There is no way to even charitably describe the goal of the system as being to pursue the best interests of the child.  The kids have only token advocates.  Bad parents often only have to demonstrate the illusion of change. 
The people who genuinely do care for the kids are systematically shut out from decision making. 
It’s awful. 

I’d say also that you feel largely alone in the church. 
Don’t get me wrong, what foster parents do is smiled upon by most Christians and many individual believers are happy to do whatever they can.  Nothing wrong with that, but often those folks don’t know what to do or how to help.  We had a lot of meals made for us, which was very sweet and much appreciated, but very few had anything in the way of answers for tough questions. 
It’s not because the church is full of bad people, but, I believe, because caring for orphans is a sub-culture of the church rather than part of the mainstream culture of the church. 
Almost everyone has an opinion of worship music, or a theology of how preaching should be done... but almost no one has had foster care or orphan care even cross their minds let alone developed some thoughts on it.  We should do better in these areas. 

Finally, the emotional roller coaster is a huge downside.  
You grow attached to the kids and you are confronted by the kids too. 
They’re dealing with loyalties to their blood relatives and yet anger and confusion over the hurt those same people have caused.
You’re dealing with a cute little one sleeping in your arms one day and a wild untrained brat throwing eggs on the floor at the grocery store in an angry fit the next day. 

It’s tiring enough to train and raise kids, let alone UNtraining and dealing with trauma as well. 
It can be emotionally draining, and then they hug you and snuggle in and whisper “goodnight Dad” as you’re putting them to bed and you’re ready to sign the adoption papers right then and there. 
It’s so strange and it has unraveled the resolve of some foster parents. 

Even more emotionally draining is the back and forth of the system. 
Mom and Dad are getting their lives together and the kids get excited and you think they’re headed home and then Mom gets a DUI and Dad gets arrested for selling meth. 
The little ones don’t understand why they can’t see them anymore and you don’t know what the future holds. 
Or, Mom and Dad aren’t interested for months and then suddenly hire a lawyer, make a few legal moves, and a sympathetic judge sends what you thought was going to be your kid back to two people who are largely the same parents that were showing “your” kid porn and touching them in places they shouldn’t, that is when they remember to feed “your” kid and aren’t beating them for watching the TV too loudly. 
And there you sit... helpless and voiceless, forgotten by a system that doesn’t like you and doesn’t care for “your” kid.

Part Two on this subject will feature more of the positive aspects.

1 comment:

  1. All very true. A newbie couple in our church tried to foster toddler siblings. They were unprepared and the experience was so horrific they were totally soured.
    On the other hand, our pastor fostered two boys and a girl over time, told them about Jesus, and tearfully/joyfully returned them to parents or a family member. The last boy they fostered is now an adopted son in their family.