I wanted to write a post that was more informative this week! Our vision at One More One Less Project is to Inform, Inspire and Intertwine the local church with foster care. So, this week I want to inform you and allow you inside "Everyday in the life of a foster parent." Some of you may already know what that looks like, but what we are finding as we talk with more and more people within the local church is that a lot of people really don't know what it's like! They don’t realize what the needs are right in their own community and how they can help when it comes to foster care. We can no longer assume everyone even knows about foster care and what it is. Yes, some people's lives have been greatly affected by it, but some people's lives haven't. Sometimes if we aren't affected by something, we don't really give it much attention or desire to do much about it. If I am not affected by poverty, sometimes it's easy for me to overlook that need. If I am not affected by sex trafficking, sometimes I don't even recognize that it's happening in my own town. If I am not affected by foster care, oftentimes I can completely overlook the 11,000 kids in foster care in NC, not to even mention the 400,000 in the United States.
Children who are in DSS Custody (foster care) are there for a reason (obviously). Children get removed from homes due to neglect, substance abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse...etc. Once a child is removed from the home, they need somewhere safe to go! These children range from just being born and still in the hospital to 18 years old. The children who are removed from their homes for ‘whatever reason’ are then either placed with an appropriate relative (that is approved by DSS and the court system) or they are placed in a foster home. However, sometimes when there are no foster homes available, they have to go to group homes. If there is nowhere for them to go in their own county, they have to find a place for them to go in another county. Think about how tragic this can be for these kids — kids who have already been through so much. Foster homes are needed, whether you live in Shelby, NC or in a third world country. We get questions all the time about what it looks like to be a foster parent. Some people are scared of the unknown. I understand that, because that was me at one point. The challenges that come with foster care are unique. But, being a foster parent is really just selflessly loving someone while expecting nothing in return. And isn't that what God has called each of us to? We are memorizing as a family right now 1 Corinthians 13 — "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to the hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." Being a foster parent is not about doing a good deed in life. It's simply loving. It's loving someone who needs to know love. My love could never be enough, but the love that God can fill each of us with is enough. Only His love is enough. Being a foster parent is not being a perfect parent. It's getting up every day and choosing to love someone else's child the best you can and letting God do the rest! You don't have to have it all together to be a foster parent you just have to be willing. Be willing to LOVE them, choose them and show up for them. So, everyday in the life of a foster parent... It's waking up in the morning and getting the precious 6 year old God has placed in your home ready for school, brushing her hair and feeding her breakfast. It's driving her to ballet so she can be just like the other girls her age. It's being there for her when she comes home from a visit with her birth mom and feels sad because she misses the way life used to be (even if that life wasn't best for her). It's waking up at 2am to feed a newborn that doesn't belong to you. It's choosing to invest in a teenager who doesn't know how to process all that has happened in his life thus far. It's discipling and teaching kids about Jesus and the love He has for them so they can hold on to that & remember that no matter where they go! Yes... you will have appointments, therapy sessions, guardian ad litem visits, social worker visits, parent visits, home studies and many other things that remind them and you that this child is not yours and they are in the "system" BUT... you choose to remind them that even though they are in foster care, that does NOT define who they are! You choose to daily remind them that they are who GOD says they are, nobody else! You choose to LOVE. I just want to love these kids. I just want them to know they matter. I want them to know they are NOT forgotten! They are worthy to be remembered and not because they are in foster care. Worthy to be remembered because God made them for a purpose. Everyday in the life of a foster parent... I'm sure it looks different for everyone. But for us, we are just waking up and choosing to love. And we are praying more people around the world would WAKE UP and choose to do the same.