by Kathy Athearn
October 31, 2017
November is National Adoption Month. To recognize this important issue, we will be publishing personal adoption testimonies over the next four weeks.
Did you know that there are thousands of children and youth in foster care who are waiting for permanent, loving families? For most of us, we can’t imagine what life would be like if we hadn’t grown up with the love, protection, and guidance of our families. God created us to be in a family.
So how can we, as a church and as caring communities, help children that are waiting for families? We can open our hearts and minds to what the Lord wants us to do. Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves includes helping orphans. Consider fostering children to show them God’s love. You can also consider being a family that provides respite care for foster families. In addition, you can provide clothing and toys to foster families or meals during their times of transition. Finally, providing words of encouragement and praying for foster families is extremely helpful.
To help you picture what fostering a child is like, I would like to share my family’s personal experience. My husband Mike and I have been licensed for foster care since the summer of 2013. We are currently waiting to receive a call to foster a girl between the ages of five and seven. However, this will not be our first foster child. Our first foster care experience began four years ago.
“There is an eight-month-old girl who needs a placement today. Are you interested?” Not much more information was given to me on July 12, 2013. My heart and mind were racing. I was excited to talk to my husband, Mike, but I wasn’t able to get ahold of him at work. (We had been licensed to foster a child between newborn and five years of age.) The social worker needed an answer as soon as possible. So I called her back, telling her I knew that Mike would say “yes.” Shortly afterwards, I got ahold of Mike and we met each other at the agency’s transition home where the social worker and baby girl were waiting for us.
When I saw little Nazarene sleeping so peacefully, it was hard for me to imagine her circumstances being so bad that she had to be removed from her mother’s custody during the night. She was sleeping so soundly that I questioned waking her, but I wanted to comfort her. So I picked her up and held her tight. She was beautiful and innocent. This was the beginning of our family’s relationship with Nazarene and a long road of unknowns.
Foster parenting requires flexibility and patience. If we didn’t believe that our Heavenly Father is sovereign and in control, it would have been much more difficult. 1 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” We had to trust God’s plan as we took Nazarene to visit her mom on a weekly basis for two years, and wonder if she would go back to her mom who was dealing with severe mental and family problems, or if we would eventually be able to adopt her.
Finally, in January 2016 our family adopted little Nazarene. We gave her a new middle name, “Faith.” The love that Mike, Joy (age 12), Lydia (age 10), our extended family, and I have for Nazarene is indescribable. We love her profoundly and pray that she will one day know how much her Heavenly Father loves her—sending his Son to die for her.
In addition, thankfully, we have a good relationship with Nazarene’s birth mom—e-mailing her pictures of our little girl and meeting her twice a year. Our prayer is that she, too, will realize how much God loves her.
If you feel God opening your heart and your home to a foster child, please contact a local agency that can answer your questions and provide you with additional information. Here are some links to help get you started:
“[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8a)
Kathy Athearn is Correspondence Writer at Family Research Council.