On a good day, foster care is an absolute crazy mess. But lately? Lately, it feels like the whole thing has gone entirely off the deep end! I’ve talked with several amazing foster mamas lately, and their stories have left me feeling that awful angry feeling you get when you are scared, frustrated, and helpless.
The truth is, foster parents don’t really have a voice when it comes to advocating for the kids placed in our homes. And to not fully be able to protect the little ones we are called to care for is gut-wrenching.
There are ten million amazing things about foster care, but I’m not going to talk about those right now… because, as I talked with one of my amazing fostering mama friends tonight, I realized that this part of foster care doesn’t get talked about and it should. I think its hard to talk about because we worry we will be misunderstood- that expressing how hard it is to do all the hard work of foster care and not have a voice will make it sound like we are complaining, like we don’t support reunification, or that our focus isn’t “right”
Those who foster will tell you that without a doubt, foster care is a ton of work. Trying to care for the unique needs of the children, juggling appointments, visits, paperwork, birth family interactions, phone calls, while still caring for the rest of our family- its totally worth it but a tremendous amount of work.
And, after all that work, we end up waiting…we wait for Court, a place where all the decisions will be made for these precious kids, and a place where foster parents don’t get a voice. To be fair, many social workers listen to us, but only or a very short time, and they are the ones who write the report for court. And sure, there are a few legal things we can sometimes do to be “heard” but often that is frowned upon, and may actually make things harder. Many times, the decisions made in court, by good people who really are trying their best, are decisions that don’t really reflect anything we said. All the advocating and sharing and speaking up and worrying we do seems to fall by the wayside.
I’m not bashing “the system.” It is broken for sure, but foster care is messy, and if it was easy to fix it would be fixed by now.
What I am saying is that it feels demoralizing to have the court make decisions that don’t seem to be in the best interest the child. Especially when you’ve done everything you can to protect them. Foster parents are asked to do all the work and then sit quietly while people who have never met the child make all the decisions.
So what do we do?
Feels too simple right?
Its not. Most people want to help foster kids but most, for really valid reasons, can’t or won’t, and that’s ok. If you read my posts you’ll know I don’t think God calls us all to the same stuff. But He is clear in his concern for “the least of these” and foster kids are definitely in this category. And in another post, I’ll share some ideas about about the practical ways you can help without actually fostering yourself, but I’m convinced what foster care needs first and most is prayer. And that’s something we all can do.
The truth is, if I could share the details of these kids stories with with you, if I could share the facts, you’d be shocked. If the church community knew what a playground foster care is for the enemy, and the mess he is making within the system, they would pray differently.
And so prayer is my answer. Big bold prayers asking for God to protect the kids, asking for the judges and the courts to have His wisdom, discernment, and insight. Prayers asking for strength, courage, and clarity (and sleep!) for foster parents. Prayers calling on Him to bring His kingdom to the brokenness that exists within the system.