Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What I have learned by being a foster parent

We are coming up on two years of foster parenting three different boys. We have seen lots of court dates, social workers, doctor visits, official documents, judges, casa volunteers, biological families, guardian ad litums, lawyers, etc.. For the most part these people have been positive to work with. At times the system was confusing and tedious, but we expected that. We realize our experience is limited to small children and the Roanoke County.

We will be adopting two of these boys and letting one go. So what have I learned through all of this? I can't totally speak for Patsy but I think we have come out of this experience with one overall theme that I feel compelled to share. This is not for one person in particular but rather for Christians as a whole.

So many times I have heard good people say "I don't think I could ever be a foster parent. I would have such a hard time letting them go." While I understand the line of thinking, let me plead with you a couple of points. First of all, these kids will be in the system for a given time and they need kind, loving, christian people who will give them a safe place for however long that may be. This option is always better than a group home or foster home sans the love and Christianity.

Secondly foster parenting is not about you or me or better said, the adult. We don't go into foster parenting thinking I want some to love me or someone I can hold onto for ever. In fact no good parents should think this way. In short this is for the kids. It is a ministry. Adoption is not the goal in most cases but that does not change the fact that these kids need someone in the here and now to be Christ-like to them. Thousands of kids do.

So what have I learned? I hope in some small measure Christ has shown me how to be a little more like him. To think less of myself and my own needs and hurts and to think more of others. The ultimate act of love is to let yourself be hurt in order to minister love to another. Is that not what Christ is all about?


Anonymous said...

You are so right and I didn't think about it that way. Fostering a child isn't about the parents - it is about being His hands and feet and being used to extend His love to a child. The Lord gives the strength to let the child go as He finds a new home for them. I love that perspective and I must say you Martins are doing a fine job of being Jesus for others. ~ Sara

Anonymous said...

John Ray encouraged us by saying that foster parenting is a picture of what Christ does for us. He says "Here, let me lift you out of your mess and make you a part of my family. You are safe here, and I will care for you." - Gloria