This guest post is from my friend Dan Bracken. I hope you will take his words to heart.
I once knew a young man named Shane. He was bright, engaging, and looked like a normal 17-year-old. Shane was different from his peers in one life altering way; he grew up in foster care.
Like most kids in care Shane longed for permanency, a word I take for granted. He wanted to know his place, to establish roots, and to have a home. One day that hope changed, and I also changed with this conversation:
Shane: I don’t want to be adopted
Me: Why? You’ve always wanted that.
Shane: No one wants me.
Me: Yes they do.
Shane: Look at me, I’m 17, no one wants a kid like me.
I went home that day and wept, and I haven’t stopped weeping since. I’m weeping as I type right now. Sadly, Shane was right. Every year, 27,000 kids age out of the foster care system. Then, they enter the world, with no support network, no money, and no family.
I began to ask myself, What could we do? Why couldn’t we make the Shanes of this world feel wanted? I wanted to do something, but I had the nagging fear of what I would expose my family to.
Ask Better Questions
One day a few months later, I had lunch with someone who re-framed my way of thinking. She very simply said, “You are asking the wrong questions. You keep asking how this could hurt your family. You should be asking how this could benefit your family.”
She was right. Being a foster parent has blessed my family. How?
I could (and maybe should) write another blog on this topic, but here are a few ways:
- It has made the Bible real for our family. We don’t just read our kids the bible; we are able to show them how it looks in real life. Verses like James 1:27 now have context in our home.
- It has exposed our weaknesses as individuals, and given us an opportunity to work through those weaknesses.
- It has taught our children perseverance, sacrifice, and patience.
- It has made our faith grow. I realized that we live a very comfortable faith in America. We aren’t challenged with uncertainty. Entering into the world of adoption and foster care blows up the illusion of control. When you are out on the ledge with little control of outcomes, you find out what the tired cliché of “trusting God” really means.
- It has burst our middle class bubble. We see poverty as more than a word or political topic. We see young lives and pain that we had previously ignored.
Who’s Blessing Who?
We commonly hear people say some variation of “That little girl is blessed to be with such a good family.” In reality, we are the ones who are blessed, each day.
Each day, there is a child in our home who knows she is wanted, each day. And each day, we see God blessing us in ways which we had previously tried to limit.
So, when it comes to foster care, are you asking the right questions?
If you have comments or questions about this topic, please leave a comment below, or contact Dan. Also, you can hear more about his story in this video below: