Stepping Up

May is Foster Care Awareness Month. Maybe you have said, “I am so glad there are people out there who are called to foster care, but that is not me.” Prayerfully consider, as you read this article, what your role may be and how you may be able to “Step Up” to the need!


How I first became interested in Foster Care

The Lord first started to grow my heart for children in foster care during my sophomore year of college. I remember going to a seminar where I heard a former foster youth tell his story, talking about how his dad would burn cigarette butts in his arm as a punishment until his teacher finally noticed. My heart broke as he went into detail about getting taken from his home as an elementary-aged child and then put in a new house that felt unfamiliar, scary, and lonely.  

Foster-Care-Heart-in-Hands

The following summer, I went to Uganda and saw the desperate need at a baby’s home. Again, my heart broke as I saw these children born into situations that hardly even gave them a chance at life.

Then my senior year, I wrote a paper and my heart broke once again as I wrote out statistic after statistic about what often happens to teens who age out of the foster care system. My heart wanted to adopt every child right then and there as I wrote out things like, “foster care to human trafficking pipeline…” or how I realized that almost 30% of these kids would experience homelessness by the time they were twenty-one years old

Foster Care is a complex and challenging issue.

Foster care is a complex and challenging issue, and there are many sides and moving parts and areas of injustice all wrapped up in it.  

The main reasons children end up in the system are abuse, neglect, parental drug addiction, or incarceration. It makes no difference whether the child was a baby or a teen or whether the parents were abusive or not. The child inevitably faces a tremendous amount of fear, anxiety, grief, loss, and trauma when taken from their home and from everything they’ve known and put in a new, strange place. They don’t know if they will see their parents or siblings again. Also, they don’t know how long they’ll be in this house or if they’ll move to another home. They don’t know how these new parents will treat them. Stability and consistent attachment are both vital for children. These kids often don’t receive either, and it’s so damaging. 

How can you help with Foster Care?

There are several different ways to fight this issue, but the gap which specifically stuck out to me is the lack of followers of Jesus who are willing to open their homes as foster parents. I do not believe everyone is called to foster care. However, when I hear that there are over 500 children in the Wake County, North Carolina, foster care system (with less than 200 homes), and when I look around at one church of about 1200 people and can only name a few foster parents, I know that this cannot be right. There is a gap between what Scripture says and what I see followers of Jesus living out. Therefore, I feel specifically called to rouse the church to step into this injustice area and bring gospel hope here. I’ve seen the impact a safe, loving, God-fearing home can have on a foster child. I’ve watched foster children who have been intentionally pursued, who have been loved well, and who have gotten baptized. And I will never get over how beautiful it is. 

You don’t have to be a foster parent to help.

I also want to be clear that there are many ways to step into foster care without becoming a foster parent. We have volunteers at our church who are involved in the ministry simply by providing a free night of babysitting to a foster family. Others sign up to provide a meal when a family receives a new placement, while others help plan events or mentor foster children. Indeed, there are a million ways to get involved based on your gifts and interests. What may seem like small ways to serve are actually huge ways to help, and I believe they will have an eternal impact. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and in this case, it is absolutely true.


Author Bio:

My name is Lauren Clark, I was born and raised in Charlotte, NC, and moved to Raleigh, NC when I started school at NC State in 2016. Four years later I graduated with a bachelor’s in social work and a heart for foster care and adoption. I started working for my church in Raleigh, working with our local nonprofit partnerships and launching our foster care and adoption ministry. It’s been so encouraging seeing the Lord move in powerful ways through foster and adoptive families at my church and seeing Him raise up more volunteers and more families willing to enter into these often hard places. 

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