Entering Fatherhood Through Orphan CareBrook Hills Contributor
Before my wife and I got married, we had many conversations about our future. One thing that was always a part of those conversations was the desire to serve in orphan care. Fast forward a few years into marriage, and we started praying and looking into what orphan care would look like for us. As we looked into adoption, we realized we didn’t immediately qualify for international adoption or domestic adoption due to age and length of marriage. Despite this, we continued to feel this strong pull toward orphan care. That is when foster care started to come into the conversation.
While my wife was ready to jump all in, I was a little more hesitant. As we continued to explore foster care, door after door was opened, and it was made clear to us foster care was the path God was leading us to pursue. So, at ages 23 and 25, we started the process to become foster parents.
The process is long, involved, and sometimes feels invasive. I had many fears and reservations during this time. We were young. We’d never had kids before. We both worked full-time, and we had no idea what it would take to care for a child coming from a hard place. I wondered who would allow me to care for a child in this situation. I doubted I had what it took to do this well, both physically and emotionally. I believe foster care advocate and author, Jason Johnson, addressed this fear well when he wrote:
“The good news is that God doesn’t invite us into this expecting that we will always have ‘what it takes’, but He does bring us into this promising that when we don’t, He still does. That’s our hope and assurance – that what’s completely out of our capacity and control is absolutely in His.”
Even in my concerns and doubts, God was faithful, and we became licensed foster parents in 2014. Only a few weeks later, a social worker was at our house to drop off our first full-time placement. Within minutes of them arriving to our house, the introductions had been made, the paperwork was done, and the social worker left. So there I was, a father for the first time, now a foster dad to two precious kids who found themselves in an unimaginable and difficult situation. That moment started a journey in foster care I could never have predicted or expected. To this day, there have been over 20 kids to come through the doors of our house. Some stayed only a few days. Others stayed as long as two years. There have been many struggles, frustrations, and unknowns, but I wouldn’t trade where we are for anything. God has taught us so much and deepened our faith. It is a privilege and blessing to be a father to these children, many of whom have never had a father figure in their life. To be able to show them the love that Christ has shown to us, and to be able to tell them they matter and are loved, is a gift I do not ever want to take for granted.
As I reflect on the past five years of this journey, and on this first Father’s Day since the passing of my own father, I am grateful and humbled by the call we have as fathers: the wonderful privilege it is to be a father, the responsibility and impact we have as we shepherd our children, and the joy that comes with seeing our children grow, learn, and laugh. These things remain the same no matter how long children are in our home. I pray every child that enters our home sees the unconditional love of our Heavenly Father for His children.
Life hardly ever works out how we have it planned. While I might not have initially envisioned becoming a father by becoming a foster parent, the way God has had His hand in our story during this journey is amazing. I am constantly reminded of our Heavenly Father’s goodness and faithfulness through the ups and downs of parenthood. None of this is because of my own actions, but Christ working through me. Be encouraged that as believers, even with our insecurities and our inadequacies, God can use us for His glory.
Jeremy Allinder and his wife, Christy, have been at Brook Hills since 2014. Jeremy is a UI/UX designer and serves in the worship band. Christy works on staff at Brook Hills as the Membership Database Associate.