Sunday, May 17, 2015

Foster Care

After finishing up graduate school, several of my friends worked in foster care. Months later, a few of them approached me (all on separate occasions) and asked me if I would be interested in being a foster parent. I didn't think they were serious. They kept asking. I kept thinking they were kidding.

Me? I'm barely able to afford my own rent and bills. I have a degree where I don't know if I'll ever make more than $50,000 at the peak time in my career. I am single. I am young. I'm barely 24 years old. I don't know what I'm doing with my life. I don't know how to take care of another person. I don't know how to cook. How can I feed them? 

I kept offering excuses, which I thought were legitimate reasons. The people who are supposed to be foster parents are the ones who have a home. Who have a family, who have a partner, who have age on their side, who know how to do life. They're the ones that should be stepping up. Not me. I thought our focus should be spent trying to get those kind of people becoming foster parents. Not me.

But my friends kept asking. And I finally stopped and said, "Wait. Are you being serious?" And they said, "Well, yeah. I thought you knew we were being serious."

What? No. I didn't. You can't be serious. And again, with the excuses. And around and around we went.

After several months of this, one of my best friends, who was also one of the ones to approach me about this idea, told me she was for real considering and for real wanted me to consider it.

And then I moved. But the seed had officially been planted, but I never shared it with anyone, other than that one friend, but even then I didn't say a lot. Finally, one day I brought it up with another best friend. I shared the conversations, my thoughts, my excuses, my questions, and we had solid dialogue about it. And we continue to have solid dialogue about it.

It was either that same weekend that I brought it up to my friend, or shortly thereafter, we made a last minute decision to go to church with my brother. (We had gone the night prior to another church and had another plan for Sunday morning. At 11:08am, we realized we couldn't do our original plan so decided to go to the 11:30am service). And that sermon was all about foster care and caring for the world. We just looked at each other and cracked up.

In fact the next several church services I went to, and since I've just moved and trying to find a good church, was a different one every week, and almost every single one of them was about foster care and adoption. And how as a Church, we should be leading the way.

It really started when I read these words from "You and Me Forever" by Francis and Lisa Chan:

We need to learn to err on the side of action, because we tend to default to negligence. So many won't do anything unless they hear a voice from heaven telling them precisely what to do. Why not default to action until you hear a voice from heaven telling you to wait? For example: Why not assume you should adopt kids unless you hear a voice telling you not to? Wouldn't that seem more biblical since God has told us that true religion is to care for the widows and orphans (James 1:27)?

I read that before the move, before the conversations. And ever since started realizing the truth in that paragraph, erring on the side of action.

So I stopped with the excuses and started trying to figure out what to do. And that led me to having a conversation with that best friend. For my new job, I had to attend the same training foster parents go through. I talked to a few of them. I talked to the director. And they all said go. Get started. Do. Doesn't matter my age or that I'm single. Doesn't matter. What matters are those kiddos in foster care. And I can do something about it. So I started reevaluating the reality of it. And as of right now, my living situation does not possibly allow for it.

While I get my life in order in those ways, I've moved forward in other ways. I can't have a kid live with me right now. But I can sponsor a kid. So I just sponsored a child through Compassion International. And I support through Kiva. And if you have foster kiddos, I want to try to make it easier for you. I can hang out with them (for free). I can hang out with you. I can send jokes. I can hear about the crappy parts of the system. I can try to provide rides.

I'm working towards getting my living situation in order so it can be conducive for another human (and puppy, I really want a dog) to live with me. Instead of waiting. I want to do what I can. And if you have other ideas, let me know.

To be a Christ follower means to love and err on the side of action. It means even if it doesn't make sense to the world, even if people tell you it's ridiculous. I wouldn't have thought about foster care, me being part of it, if it weren't for my friends who told me I could do it. People already believing in me, despite all of things I lack. And I would have discounted it if I hadn't been reminded by the words of Francis Chan that my default move should always be to go. 

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