The Call of the Christian to Foster Care

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If you haven’t listened to last week’s episode- before you read this, you should go back and either listen to it or read the show notes! Also, pause and watch this video: Francis Chan the REAL American Dream (it’s only about 6 minutes)! Now that you’ve done the homework, we can jump into this episode!

In the last episode, we talked about our personal experience and why we decided to become foster parents. This week, we’re talking more about how Christians are called to foster care. We’ll also talk about some of the pushback we could (and do) get against this conviction.

We’re not experts. We aren’t coming at this conversation from a high horse. But we do want to challenge you to be involved in some way in the foster care system.

So, what is foster care? What does it mean to be a foster parent?

You can sign up through your local county or maybe a private agency. You are trained and then become licensed foster parents. When the state or county receives a call from Child Protective Services concerned about a child (because of abuse, neglect, etc…), that case is screened and evaluated. They go to the home to evaluate the validity of that call. If it is determined a valid call (usually only if it is very clear), they will immediately remove the kids from that living environment.

Those kids are then taken into custody by CPS, the state. They will then be placed with foster parents. If there aren’t foster parents (which is very likely), they will be put in group homes, shelters, or even the office of the CPS agent. But if the kids are placed in the home of a foster parent, it is for an indeterminate amount of time (4 days, a couple months, a year, or even forever).

The goal of foster care is reunification. This is why the length of time a kid is in foster care varies a lot. So foster parents serve as those temporary caretakers until a kid can be reunited with their parents. It is not always the case that their parents are drug addicts who don’t care about their kids. Sometimes, it’s a single mom who got into a car accident and can’t take care of her kids while she recovers. The rhetoric of why kids are in foster care, especially towards their bio families, is not always true or very kind. This is where the Christian worldview needs to alter how we view bio families and the system as a whole.

A Difficult Call

Being a foster parent is difficult! There is a lot of complexity. You are parenting another kid, you are adding more logistics (therapy appointments, case worker visits, meeting with bio parents, etc…), and you are an agent of that child’s healing. You aren’t the only aspect, but you are on the frontlines.

So, why should you become a foster parent?

Demonstrating the Gospel

It is one of the most tangible, visible ways to demonstrate the gospel and live out the Christian faith.

We are told all throughout Scripture to care for the widow and the orphan (James 1:27, Psalm 82:3, Matthew 25:32-46).

To be clear, foster kids are not orphans. That being said, in modern-day U.S., orphanages don’t exist anymore. This is one of the best ways to follow this instruction.

Jesus says we will be known by our love for one another (Matthew 13:34-35, 1 John 4:10-19).

Yes, this passage is talking about love for fellow believers. But we should still seek to demonstrate this love to a lost and dying world. How can we demonstrate our love to the world? Come alongside and serve the vulnerable and those who need it the most.

Love often means doing the difficult thing.

Meeting Needs

There is a need, without a doubt, no matter where you are. So, the best thing we can do is play our part in meeting that need.

Approximately 391,000 kids are in foster care in the US. Of these, approximately 113,000 are waiting to be adopted. There are signs everywhere saying they need foster parents.  

113 THOUSAND. JUST WAITING. On average, they wait three years to be adopted. The government is doing the work for us, how is the church of Christ not meeting this need?!?! The system is in place and as Christians, we need to be available.

There are an estimated 800,000 churches in the US. If just one family from every other church did foster care, there wouldn’t be a need. One family per church that’s it. And it’s not a resource issue! The government provides a stipend to take care of foster kids.

We tell the story of the Good Samaritan and praise his effort, but then when push comes to shove, most of us act more like the priest and the Levite. They saw the need but just walked on by on the other side of the road. Shame on us as the body of Christ

We don’t mean to take on an attitude of condemnation, so please don’t think we are. We know that it’s difficult. It’s just when we hear these numbers, all we can think about is why the church has not stepped up to meet this huge need. 

If you want to hear a more in-depth discussion on the “why” of foster care, check out last week’s episode!


Now, let’s talk about some pushback we’ve received from others about doing foster care (either people saying we shouldn’t or that they would never do it themselves). To be fair, a lot of this is coming from a good place or genuine fear. But, most of this has also come from those who have never done foster care before.

I. Foster care is putting yourself and/or your children at risk

This is what we hear the most.

We are not called to a life of safety, comfort, and ease.

And, as parents, we don’t take unnecessary risks. We aren’t recklessly running into danger and taking on as much risk as possible.

We have two little girls. So, we decided a boundary for us is that we wouldn’t accept a teenage boy who has sexually abused others. It would be unwise and unprotective of our children.  

Similarly, we were in the process of getting licensed when we found out we were pregnant with Emory, so we took a step back and decided to wait. We knew that season wouldn’t be wise to take on the burden of foster care, and then Verity came so soon after. But we had a plan in place.  We decided to wait until we were in a different season out of wisdom and discernment. We decided that as soon as Verity was out of the newborn stage (a year and a half to two years) we would do it. 

Anxious for Nothing

In Anxious for Nothing, Max Lucado talks about the difference between anxiety and fear.

Fear is a good thing. It is seeing a Rattlesnake and avoiding it. Proper fear is good and helps us avoid bad things.

Anxiety is not a good thing and prevents us from living and doing anything. It is being afraid a rattlesnake is outside, so you don’t go out.

If we have a justifiable reason to be concerned, then yeah, we will put boundaries in place. But we can get caught up in the “what ifs/who knows/I’m worried” until we convince ourselves that we shouldn’t take any kids. We aren’t called to have all the control- God is sovereign and we have to trust Him.

II. I haven’t gotten this clear sign from God that we should do it. We haven’t been called to do it (and God is not a God of confusion)…

Why do we assume that we need confirmation from God to do it? Shouldn’t we be looking for confirmation from God to not do it? 

And yeah, we are called to do it. God tells us to care for the poor, the oppressed, and the needy. The Bible gives us all the confirmation we need! Pursue what the Bible says to do until God clearly shuts the door and makes it clear that you shouldn’t.

Picking up our cross isn’t supposed to be easy and comfortable! We can put ourselves in situations that are uncomfortable and difficult and will force us to rely on the Lord. When we do, our prayer life and dependency on the Lord will grow!

III. I would get too attached to the child 

There are many more pushbacks we could share, but this is the last of the three most common ones we hear.

And our response to this one? Good. That’s what you’re supposed to do. It should be heartbreaking when that child leaves your home after they have been there for whatever amount of time.

Developmentally, it is crucial for a child and parental figure to form an attachment with each other. It helps them have a sense of stability which has impacts later on in life!

And that’s difficult, but I’m (Xan) not going to tell you to harden your heart with every placement.

One Degree Shift

Pursue foster care. If you can’t take in a kid right now, what are some other ways you can serve? Be a respite parent, find ways to serve foster kids and foster parents. Pray that God would make it clear if you are NOT supposed to do it. 

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