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Inside a Foster Home the Real Story

A mother and daughter share a hug. Both smile for a picture.

Inside a Foster Home: The Real Story

Several years ago, I was given this blessing, “May you be covered by the dust of Jesus.” The quizzical look on my face prompted the pastor to explain his blessing to me.

It was a contemporary version of an ancient Hebrew phrase, “In the Dust of the Rabbi.” The phrase encouraged disciples and students to walk so closely behind their Rabbi that the dust trailing from the teacher’s sandals would cover those following him.

Covered by His Dust

The present-day blessing of the Hebrew phrase is like passing on a Godly heirloom. The disciples followed Jesus so closely that they were covered by His dust.

When the disciples taught about Jesus, His dust got on those who listened and believed. Over centuries, the Word of God has covered generation after generation, from one person to the next. Then, one day, you walked so closely behind someone teaching about Jesus that you were covered by His dust. 

If foster parents love the Lord, a foster home will be filled with His love, His faithfulness, and His grace. No matter how long a child is placed with a family, no matter who enters or departs from the home, everyone will be covered in the dust of Christ. Jesus is what makes the real story inside a foster home good.

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Jesus is what makes the real story inside a foster home Good.

Crossing the Threshold

When I asked one of my good friends how she and her husband knew they were called to be foster parents, she replied, “I knew it had to happen.” I believe the call to be a foster parent is not complicated. A person feels, hears, or sees something that moves inside them and cannot be ignored. For example, an ad to be a foster parent, a conversation about a child in foster care, or a sermon on the ministry of loving the fatherless may be the catalyst for action.

When the dust of Jesus is in the air, like anything else, you are free to wave it away. You can say “yes,” “no,” or “not now.” No matter what you decide to do, the point is the Bible teaches that the Lord chooses all of us at some point to participate in the care of the fatherless.

The call to be a foster parent is something that can't be ingored.

The Real Story Requires Yielding

I am not going to paint a perfect picture of a foster home. At times, foster parents have given up because the children placed in their care are not who they expected or hoped they’d be.

We all make mistakes, including foster parents. Sometimes, foster parents say the wrong thing. Like all of us, they run late for appointments. They lose their patience. It is not unusual for foster parents to find themselves, more than once, at the end of their rope. However, it is a lack of understanding to isolate one of these moments of weakness to illustrate the depth of a foster parent’s love or sacrifice.

A foster home should be a place of love, forgiveness, fairness, and grace…for everyone living between its walls. Foster parents will succeed if they are willing to yield to the unknown. They may know the Author, but they do not know the story.

Yes, foster parenting is hard. I still believe it is harder to dismiss what the Lord has each of us to do: protect the fatherless from harm and usher them into the safety of His Kingdom.

The Real Story is a Call to Worship

Offering a home to the ministry of foster parenting is a Holy and messy mission. For years, when life shifts under my feet, and the Lord’s Glory is lost over the horizon, I pray, “Lord, tether me to your throne!” He knows it is my battle cry. It is all I can muster in the midst of madness.

I do not know one foster parent who has not had their heart broken. Like Abraham, a foster parent is called to place all they hold dearly on the altar. 

Foster parents must find the battle cry of their hearts. That short prayer of desperation will remind them that the King of Kings will defend what He has called them to do.

The Real Story is About Them

As I considered a foster family’s home and what really happens in it, I couldn’t help but look to the children in care. Who they are and what they have been through is the real story. It is not about the walls of a home or the space of a bedroom, what kind of bike he rides, or the number of dresses she has. The real story is written in their hearts.

As widely “preached” as it is, I believe it is poor theology to say, “The Lord won’t give you more than you can handle.” Children in care are carrying more than they can bear, and foster parents are an example of how the Lord soothes that overwhelming ache. A foster parent gets to be a light in the darkness. Shelter on the front lines. That gentle whisper we read about in 1 Kings19:11-12.

The Real Story Isn’t About a Beautiful Home

New foster parents often find a child-in-care isn’t grateful for the foster family’s generosity. A beautiful home. Clean clothes. A new dog. A loving family. 

Some foster parents may ask themselves, “Why aren’t they more grateful?” “Don’t they realize how much time was spent getting certified, or how inconvenient the locks are that we had to install?” “I had to ask my best friend to go through a background check!”

Becoming a foster parent is an immeasurable sacrifice. I know. However, we cannot overlook what these precious children have lost. Their home. Their clothes.Their pets. Their family. Taken. No matter how broken, ragged, or frightening their lives may appear to us, what love they have known is gone. They endure so much disappointment that hope feels like the “well-spring” of danger.     

The Real Story Begins in Each of Us

As you can see, volunteering to be a foster family is not a simple mission. Saying “Yes” to being a foster parent is a high calling. For some folks it is the title of their story; for others, it is a chapter.

Some people will live out the commandment to “…seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless…” (Isaiah 1:17) by being foster parents or part of a foster family’s journey. Others will form a “church” around a foster family by supporting and praying for them. Some people will fund foster care efforts, some will be advocates, and some, like I did, will work in the fields of foster care and adoptions.

The Real Story is Good

Over the last 34 years of serving in foster care, as a professional, my heart has been broken, repaired, resuscitated, and blessed with more than I can say. The wounds and the healing compel me to tell God’s story of Goodness and Faithfulness.

After 21 days of attempting to write this article, I contacted Focus On The Family to tell them I may not be able to send them anything by the deadline. My thoughts were scrambled, and I simply could not find a way to put the words in order. I felt defeated. Then I found a storybook I asked to borrow some years ago written as a school assignment by a little girl who used to be in the state system with her brother and sister. Reese wrote a short story about her experience in foster care and their adoption. It inspired me.

I reached out to her mom to see if I could get Reese’s permission to use her story in this article. A day later, her mom sent me a note with Reese’s permission and a description of her daughter’s excitement about possibly having her story published. After 21 days of getting nowhere, suddenly I was right on the heels of Christ. I ended up finishing this article the same day Reese’s mom sent me her note.

What changed? I did not want to disappoint Reese. She reminded me, that the Lord isn’t just near to the brokenhearted, He hears them and heals them. I hope Reese reminds you of His goodness too.

Reese's Adoption Story

2016, One lovely October day, Reese was born quickly to her overjoyed birth mom. She was a cute baby with a little afro. When she was three years old, Reese journeyed to a foster home so she could be safe. Reese felt sad.

Reese dwelled there with her three large foster brothers. Her playful little brother, Isaiah, moved in also, and then their sweet little sister, Maya, joined them too. After they were at their foster home for two years, they moved to a new foster family. This was their forever family!

Reese wondered curiously who God was and how she should act. She was also excited to learn more about Jesus. On November 22, Reese, her excited brother, and her sister had an Adoption Day. On that magnificent day, they whooshed to court, and the pleased judge confidently announced they were adopted at last!

They became a family with trust and, wisdom and love. They are slowly growing strong. With faith and patience, they are walking carefully along. They realized God was there with them the whole time.

The End.

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