Tuesday, October 22, 2013

If Not Us, Then Who? If Not Now, Then When?

Over the course of the past few weeks there's been a story of a young man who's been in the foster care system his whole life swirling around the news and internet.  This fifteen year old boy stood in front of a congregation of Christians and plead for a family.  I heard the story and it wrecked my heart.  A few years ago, I went to a conference in Chicago at Willow Creek Community church and Bill Hybels spoke of finding your "Holy Discontent" and how that would set you on your mission for life.  I think I've found mine.  I hear stories of children without families and it breaks my heart into a million pieces.  I get on my knees and I pray about what more I can do to help this crisis in our world.  The statistics are staggering.

I sit and I wonder how it is possible for an orphan to walk in to a church and humble himself with such courage and walk out alone.  Now, I know that in the time since that day, THOUSANDS of families have called and inquired on this courageous young man, and I PRAY that all of those thousands of people who do not end up being the boy's family will open their minds and hearts to a different child, because the truth is there are THOUSANDS of kids out there, not unlike this young man, who want nothing more than to know the love of a family....a love that will be there forever.

I wonder about the state of the "church" when statistics say that if only 7% of Christians adopted there would be no child without a family.  If ONE family out of every THREE churches adopted there would be no crisis.  I'll be honest here.  I am struggling to understand what on earth is going on.  There are over 116,000 children in the foster care system RIGHT NOW who are available for adoption.  I cry as I type this because "Christians" all over are spewing Bible verses and taking a stand on many things...some that matter...and some that maybe don't....this matters.  The Bible MANDATES us to act.  If we claim we believe what the Bible tells us, I don't know how we can turn a blind eye any longer.  If we as His body don't act, how does that reflect on Him? 

That said, adoption isn't easy, and it isn't something all people can do, although it is awfully easy to find an excuse as to why you can't.  These kids often come with much baggage and are so challenging, I am coming off of a day full of therapist and social worker visits, tantrums and tears.  It is no joke and if your heart truly isn't in it, you shouldn't do it.  Faith requires action and sometimes that action makes life harder and makes things uncomfortable, but we aren't called to live this life for only ourselves.  God tells us that "Children are a gift".  I guess I just think it is time we start believing that and treating them as such.  They are after all our future.  They are not a nuisance to put up with for 18 years so we can then retire and travel on easy street as empty nesters.  There are REAL kids out there hurting who need a home and a family to commit to them and show them unconditional love even when they aren't loveable (and especially then).

Jesus told Peter to "feed His sheep".  He didn't tell him to go out and crusade for and against all of the causes we seem to be crusading for and against.  He merely said, "Feed my sheep.".  I pray each day about what else we can DO, and currently most of our family doesn't understand why we'd "make life so much harder for ourselves by taking these kids in" but the truth is...while it is exponentially harder, it is also exponentially better.  Living in His will, and being His hands and feet are a privilege we can ALL enjoy....right now the harvest is great and the workers are few...I'd invite you to pray about how you can act.  Maybe you truly just are not in a place where you could foster or adopt, maybe you are, either way there is SOMETHING you can do.  Foster and adoptive families don't always receive overwhelming support, so if you can't foster or adopt, maybe offer to come along side a family who is, this is hard work, and we all could use a helping hand.  Maybe offer to do respite or babysit, cook, deliver some groceries,clean or fold laundry, even just delivering coffee to a weary mom does wonders.

Would you join me in praying for these children all over the world currently living without a forever family.  The truth is, the answer isn't just adoption.  Adoption happens as a result of a lot of other brokenness.  Adoption is a necessary thing but it is far from ideal.  Ideally kids would live forever with their first family.  So maybe your place is coming alongside a struggling family and helping them do just that!

I surely don't have it all figured out and I can certainly do more myself.  But we've got to act now.  Each day these kids spend feeling unloved and unwanted wounds them further.  Every kid deserves to know the love of a family.


Geri Kelly said...

You are wonderful at putting this problem before all of us.
Geri Kelly

Sarah Rose said...

This post was beautiful and hard to read at the same time. Our family is just exiting a period of foster care. We hoped through the foster care system to adopt. Due to the political natures of the foster care system, combined with the fact that perhaps our family (with two small children)was just not ready yet, we have just pulled our names off the list. It was heart wrenching to do. I pray all the time that God will just bring to us a child who needs adopted, without the complexity of the "system." But, until that time, we have been financially supporting (in meager ways, with a meager budget) those who are doing overseas adoption, praying for those who are in the foster care system, etc, babysitting when we can, and even opening our home to respite care. So, I guess my point is, to those who may be reading this, even if you can not adopt right now, do something to help someone who is. Make a meal. Get your clearances to babysit. Surprise the parents with a night out on the town. Fostering and adopting is draining and hard at times. Fill those people who are doing this up! Thank YOU for doing what you are doing! :)

boltefamily said...

AMEN! Sarah Rose! Exactly. It is hard, and it isn't something everyone can do. The "system" is for sure broken. We can ALL do SOMETHING though. GREAT suggestions!

Rachel said...

I recently donated a tub of 3t clothes to a beautiful blonde hair girl named Lexi. As she looked at all the clothes here eyes were as big a saucers and the smile on her face was priceless. It was like Christmas to this little girl. It might only make a difference to her that day but I'm hoping that every day she puts on a "new" outfit or "new" pajamas she feels some comfort. I of course could have sold the clothes at a rummage sale or a consignment shop but the little money I received would not have benefited me. It would have been spent on something as trivial as a dinner out. Small acts of kindness like this matter. They matter to the foster parents and no matter how young they matter to the child in need. For a child knowing she has clean, warm clothes and lots of them is what every child should have. Your family is amazing. I admire your courage, strength and patience.

Rachel said...

I should follow up I know kids need more than lots of clothes. I guess its just one small thing that can maybe comfort them during their time in foster care after everything they have been through and likely will continue to go through.

Stephanie said...

Thank you for putting into words what my heart feels. I 100% agree that while not all are called to adopt, all are called to help care for the orphans of this world. There is SO much that can be done to assist those going through the process.

Anonymous said...

Those statistics are staggering. I'm inspired to pass this on. Thanks! I will adopt one day. It's something I'm working toward. God bless you!