Today's post was written by BH member, Jenny Clark. Jenny is a single mom to four little people (two tummy babies, one via adoption, and one via foster care). She is passionate about overlooked children, foster care, adoption, and the gospel. This article is being re-posted from her blog with permission.
Question: How many foster families through DHR in Shelby County, AL, are available and willing to take children with special needs? Just take a guess......
Answer: One. And it is me.
Church, that is a problem. A BIG BIG problem.
I know what you are already thinking: "Foster care is hard enough. I just don't think I could handle a child with special needs"
"This is just not what I am called to do."
"I have enough on my plate already."
"These kids should go to someone with a medical background."
And on and on it goes.
Let me give you the facts. When a child with special needs comes in to foster care, their county DHR office searches their database, and typically, they find nowhere to place the child, especially in the smaller counties. No one who has said, "I desire to care for this type of child."
The county will then contact private agencies like Lifeline and Alabama Baptist, but they rarely have families that will take kids with special needs. Side note: if you are a private agency foster family you would have to specifically request to be contacted about children with special needs, otherwise you will never hear about them.
At this point, DHR will send out a statewide email to all the counties in the state. This is the last ditch effort, so to speak, before the child ends up elsewhere. And by elsewhere, I mean living in a hospital for their whole lives. Or a group home. Or a nursing home.
Zee was a statewide email baby. I won't even let myself imagine where he would be right now if I had said no.
So my challenge to the church is simple. We need more people to step up and care for these kids. They are right here under our noses, and we can't ignore them.
We can't simply sign up to be foster parents to the cute, cuddly, shiny new babies and toddlers and feel like we are doing all we can. Shouldn't we let God tell us which children He wants us to care for?
Just take a look at this "Child Desired" form. I imagine when most people fill this out, they are simply overwhelmed by the idea of bringing a child in to their home who will someday leave. And I imagine because of that reason alone, many families think they just couldn't handle a child with special needs. I get it. Trust me.
But my mind says, what if I had to measure up to a form to have God DESIRE ME.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in Him.
If you are in process to become a foster parent, please consider opening your heart to the least of these! If you are a seasoned foster parent, consider updating your child desired form!
I know. This is not for everyone. But it is for me, and I will continue to advocate for these kids because THEY will bless YOU more than you can ever imagine.
To learn more about what the Bible teaches regarding orphan care, listen to this sermon by David Platt entitled "Father to the Fatherless."