"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer." –Romans 12:12
As I think of all the children caught up in the foster care crisis in Texas, I can’t help but feel despair. However, I choose to remain hopeful, patient and faithful. Every day, I hear foster parents share their desire to serve the children in their care and their heavenly father. But I also see despair in their eyes when their expectations sometimes don’t measure up to the reality of caring for children who have been exposed to such horrific trauma.
I’ve worked with traumatized children for more than 15 years. I’ve seen the days when foster parents are given glimpses of hope for the future, and they feel like the tears, heartache, hard-learned lessons of patience and sleepless nights just became worth it. But until recently, I couldn’t fully understand what they were feeling, because I wasn’t the one praying through tears for my foster children each night.
In August, my husband and I decided to jump feet first into foster care. We put up a lot of parameters to protect my heart, my career and our other children. I’ll admit these parameters were set without seeking God, but were put in place for my own comfort. However, as I chose to push myself out of my comfort zone, these parameters fell away – especially as I got to know my foster son.
And today, I am so hopeful for him. But it’s not always easy for me to remember to pray through the tears when I’m feeling sleep deprived or when I have to take him to the hospital yet again. And this child, my sweet foster son, has needs that are pretty basic compared to other children in care.
Then it hits me – this is why it’s so hard to recruit foster parents who are willing to care for the older, traumatized child who has been in and out of 15 foster homes, or psychiatric hospitals and lock-down facilities. If it’s not easy to care for an infant with basic needs, how could it be easy to care for this teen who needs so much more?
But then, I go back to the glimpses of hope we, as foster parents, get for a child’s future. It reminds me that if we can seek God’s guidance, allow God to stretch us and allow God to protect us, life-changing hope to all children who need it, no matter the age and no matter what they’ve been through is possible. It reminds me that caring for these children – regardless of their needs – is truly a calling. And when we respond to that calling, we can shine a beam of sunshine and hope into the life of that child.
This May, during National Foster Care Month, I ask you to faithfully pray about how God wants you to serve the most desperate children in foster care. I also ask you pray to open yourself up to being uncomfortable, or unsure, or fearful of the future, because those feelings will be turned into joy.
If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a therapeutic foster parent, contact Cameka Hart, therapeutic family specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Andi Harrison, Buckner Foster Care and Adoption Director in North Texas. She is blessed to have dedicated and caring staff who serve children and families every day. Prior to working at Buckner, Andi worked with Child Protective Services for 12 years. Outside of her Buckner family, she has a pretty awesome husband, Taylor, two stepsons, Hayden and Colin, and a beloved foster son.
May is National Foster Care Month. To learn more about how you can become a foster parent or support foster families in your community, visit buckner.org/nationalfostercaremonth.