Thursday, March 22, 2012

Becoming a Foster Parent of Troubled Kids: A Leap of Faith

by John

Everyone comes to be a foster parent in his or her own way. Some come to it on the journey to becoming a parent through adoption or to grow their existing family, others as a way to make a difference in a system that raised them. Those are just two of a thousand unique reasons a person might choose foster parenting, and every parent I have met has had an interesting and inspiring story.

Sometimes couples or individuals are supremely ready for the challenges that some foster kids might present, others may request to provide emergency, short term or foster parenting for children with very minimal behavioral, emotional and physical challenges. Whatever type of fostering a person wants to do, they (hopefully) begin the process from a place of love and the desire to help.

I started foster care resistant to working with kids with histories of sexual abuse and learning disabilities because I was uncomfortable with those issues. I was comfortable dealing with kids who had anger issues, or got in trouble with the law, because I had dealt with kids like that in my other job, helping them fulfill community service hours. I was successful dealing with kids like this, and could get them to turn around their bad behavior. I took level 0-1 or 2 if I could.

Until I had this dream.

I dreamt I was walking with Jesus and we were talking about the children I was taking care of. He said, “ John, take care of my kids,” and I said, “Okay,” because I was already doing foster care and had some kids with me, so it was an easy answer for me to make. I felt like I was already doing His work.

But then Jesus said, “You must take care of All my kids…”
I replied, “But Jesus, I can’t take care of all of them, I don’t know how.”

I had told my wife when we began doing foster care that we wouldn’t take on any kids with major learning problems, as I was an ADHD kid and had difficulty learning myself and I was afraid of the children finding out.

I was also afraid to take on kids with sexual abuse issues; I did not want any part of that! Too scary! I just wanted to work with kids that were “bad” and help them learn right from wrong, or work with kids that were being neglected, that I could help by just loving them and provide them with a stable home.

I just wanted a level 0-1, so, now, I am thinking, He has me! I try to plead with Him. “I cant! I don’t know how! It’s impossible for me!”
Then Jesus said, “ Love MY kids John.”
I said, “ I do, I do.”
Jesus replied, “ No you don’t John, you are caring for them, not loving them.”
I said, “What do you mean?”
He said, “ Love them with your whole body and soul.”

Again, I asked Jesus, “What do you mean?” Tears ran down my face with shame in my heart because I knew He knew my weaknesses.
He said one more time, “ Love my children,” and then he walked up to me and his spirit entered my body.

I fell to my knees and my face hit the ground. I cried as I felt Him inside me, holding me and taking away my fears. He told me “lead them with your heart and your mind and be in them as I am in you. Be to them as I am to you…”
He took all my shame away, all my fears were gone and I woke up crying and said, “Yes, God, Yes, I will. I will do my best…”

I have tried each day since. I understand now that helping my foster kids means more than providing shelter, it means learning who they are, where they have been, even if their history is hard for me to hear, or understand. Learning who they are is vital in helping them later on…. Something I will talk about more in future posts.

It has not been easy. I have dealt with kids who have been hurt very badly, been tied up and discarded, been sexually abused, abused others, are mentally challenged, detached, have threatened me, destroyed things I have loved and so much more.

If you are reading this you probably understand. I have also learned so much, and spend a lot of my time laughing, and being loved. I am truly blessed, and I would have none of it if it weren’t for my faith and relationship with God.

It works for me. I work for God. Maybe your faith is different, and I can appreciate that. I only hope that your faith gives you the strength and support I get from my faith. I also hope that my experiences and successes can help you with your difficult children.

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  1. Wonderful post John! Thanks for sharing your experiences with everyone. I hope to grow as a foster parent and I know that's only possible in Him. Thanks again. -Matt

  2. Thanks for your comment, it is so great to connect with other loving foster parents!

  3. Awesome story John. It is amazing what God can do with our "talents" when we allow Him to use us to do His will.

  4. Thank you for commenting on this and I am always looking for people to share their own stories of faith and inspiration.

  5. This is beautifully written. That is exactly the kind of love and complete dedication that is needed to really reach kids who have gone through the hard "stuff". Great post!

  6. Thank you for the comment for the beautiful writing I cant take credit for that (my co-author wrote it) but the content is mine! I agree, the only way to help hurting children is to love them completely( as Jesus loved us) and learn to understand them. Thank you.