04 Nov, 2020 Foster Care – Can You Give The Ultimate Gift?
by Lee Ann Mancini
‘Tis the season to be jolly
Unless you are one of the 500,000 children who linger in the foster care system. Yes, a half million children! When you think of foster care, what do you envision? A child living in the home of a loving family while waiting to be reunited with his or her parent/parents. In some cases that is true, but in most situations, the children live in a group home. “The white, concrete walls resemble a jail cell more than a bedroom and there are rules against giving other people hugs. Yes, you read that correctly – not even hugs are allowed under the ‘no physical contact’ rule that still exists in some group homes today.’” Can you gift the ultimate gift of a home or volunteer in love?
Children who linger in the foster care system become a sad statistic:
- More than one in five transitioning youth will become homeless after age 18
- Only 58 percent will graduate high school by the age of 19 (compared to 87 percent of all 19-year-old young adults)
- Seventy-one percent of young women become pregnant by the age of 21. As a result, they face higher rates of unemployment, criminal conviction, public assistance, and involvement in the child welfare system
- At the age of 24, only half are employed
- Fewer than 3 percent will earn a college degree by the age of 25 (compared to 28 percent of all 25-year-old adults
- One in four will be involved in the justice system within two years of leaving the foster care system
We have a calling
As Christians, what are we called to do as a part of the body of Christ? God’s word states, “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” (Deuteronomy 10:18 NIV). Also, God, our Father, accepts this as pure and faultless: …“ look after orphans and widows in their distress and … keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27 NIV).
How do we know if this is for us specifically?
We need to search our hearts and find out if God is calling us to reach out to foster a child. There are many wonderful stories of children becoming permanent members of families who enriched these children’s lives. And this wouldn’t have happened if there were no families who reached out in love. And even if we cannot provide a home for these children, we can volunteer at a foster facility and show them God’s love in action. We can write letters, bake cookies, bring gifts, read them stories – giving love comes in many ways. And it’s not just us who are showing love, it’s the hugs, smiles, and joy these children share with us. Let us usher a child into our home and embraced that lonely child in love.
Give the greatest gift you can give this year – love to those who feel unwanted and unlovable. All children are our future, and it is how we fill in as a foster parent. Showing true love and sharing Jesus with them will determine the trajectory of our world. Most importantly, we must remember, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40 NIV).
Lee Ann Mancini is the award-winning children’s author, publisher, host of the Raising Christian Kids podcast. and executive producer of the Sea Kids books and TV series. She is a renowned speaker and Bible college professor whose passion is to help parents raise their children to have a strong foundation in Jesus.
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