Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fostering kids

I've been thinking a bit about fostering children over the past few years and then there was an interview on the radio last week with foster carers, followed by an article in Saturday's paper on fostering.  It's kind of got me thinking a bit more about all of this (the article in the paper had aspects that were quite distressing from my position as a parent - hard to not feel that there must be something I can do to help).

Earlier this year I was chatting to a friend who asked me "Should we all be adopting or fostering?  What do you think about all this?  I think there's a blog post in this topic Jenny!"  So here I am - prompted by these two coincidences.  We also have good friends who in the last stages of an overseas adoption (which is very exciting to share with them).

Personally I think fostering is something we should all at least stop and consider.  Especially if we're in a stable relationship, functional family, educated, financially secure.  I'm not saying that means we will all end up doing it - just considering it properly.

The Bible does have some pretty blunt verses about how we need to care for orphans.  And while children who are fostered are not orphans, they wouldn't have any responsible parent-type figure in their lives if they aren't cared for by someone other than their birth family.

James 1:27  Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

Isaiah 1:17  Learn to do good.  Seek justice.  Help the oppressed.  Defend the cause of orphans.  Fight for the rights of widows.

Proverbs 31:8-9  Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;  ensure justice for those being crushed.  Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.


I have often wondered if fostering became a norm in our church communities - so that Sunday School could cope with some extra kids on weekend respite, so that I had friends who I could share the experience with (much the same way that having other mums with small kids around is invaluable when you're a first-time mum) - then maybe it wouldn't feel so daunting.  If a significant number of people in each church across Australia committed themselves to fostering, we could make a massive social impact.

I'm not saying this is for everyone (please, please don't get the guilts) - I'm not even sure it's for us.  We have a lot of children and a small house.  Being honest - the unknown is scary (especially when it comes to your own household).  But maybe it's something for the future.  When some of our older kids move out.

I'd love to hear other's thinking on this.  I'm very much a beginner in my thoughts on this topic.

Btw - if you're interested in investigating fostering further, here's a link to a brochure produced by Anglicare, just giving an overview of the process and answers to some FAQs.




10 comments:

erinisle said...

Hello - Delurking...I came here via another blog and I knew Rowan when I did Arts at Uni...

I currently live in London. At the moment, Christians are being forced out of fostering as the courts seem to think that Biblical Christian views are incompatible with raising children.

BBC take:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-12598896

Christian website take:
http://www.christiantoday.co.uk/article/high.court.upholds.bar.on.christian.foster.carers.over.homosexuality.views/27592.htm

My husband and I had been thinking about this in the future (mostly due to his office manager at work being a foster carer for some very young children) but we're now not sure that we'd be seen as appropriate. Interesting times.

Erin

Jo said...

That is a worry Erin.
I agree Jenny, something Christians should consider, and support each other in doing. I go to a pretty big Church in NW Sydney, and there is not one family who foster kids as far as I know. We have talked about it for years, but have done nothing about it...

Karen said...

My husband's brother and his wife are foster carers in Qld (and they are Christians). They have two kids of their own, and also have with them at the moment a 9 year old (I think) girl who is fostered with them fairly long term as repeated attempts to reunite her with family of origin haven't been successful. She goes to church with them but I think this is because birth Mum has okayed it, and when the little girl has weekend visits with birth family they might go to church if it's Christmas or Easter. Not all the foster children they have had have been allowed to attend church with them.
From conversations with them about it, it sounds like dealing with the government department involved and its caseworkers isn't much fun. The other thing is that these kids have generally had pretty rough environments in their younger years, which often leaves them with lots of learning difficulties and behaviour issues as an ongoing legacy. They need probably more patience and perseverance than the "average" child. My brother in law teaches in a special school so this is something he has professional expertise in as well....

Karen said...

...still commenting even though my own blog is having a little hibernating time!?

ELF said...

Jenny, I read that article on the weekend and it made me cry :(
It is something Matt and I have discussed and something we both would like to do in the future. Just need some more space in our house!

It's something a bit close to my heart as my Mum was in an Catholic orphanage for 13 years (from the age of 10mths). She finally was fostered out at age 14. Her mother never visited her but banned anyone else from adopting her (grrr).

At the moment, our house is only 2 bedrooms, and I believe (could be wrong!) that if you are going to foster, even temporarily, you have to have a separate bedroom for the child?

I have a friend that bought a 5 bedroom house for that exact reason. She already has one foster daughter, one biological son and is in the process of taking in more. She's an inspiration!

Liz

ELF said...

The other key bit I forgot to say was that:
if you ask Mum why she thinks she turned out so well, (despite her very difficult childhood), she attributes it to her constant faith in God throughout her whole life. :)

simone r said...

I've been thinking about fostering for a few years now. Some advice I got from foster carer is not to foster kids the same age as your own kids or older. Foster younger ones or your own kids will be influenced. I am planning on doing it in the future.

I think fostering and adopting are two very different things and are best not considered together. You get to keep kids that you adopt.

Jenny said...

I've heard that too about the age thing Simone - it makes sense to me. I agree about the fostering/adopting difference - helpful point.

Anonymous said...

I am a regular reader but I'll use anonymous for today if you don't mind. I've often thought about fostering and would like to do it in the future if God permits. I have a real burden for those kids who just get stuck with a bad lot in life. Partly because of friends who were in those kinds of situations when we were children together. However, I have a concern with fostering that has meant it's a "not yet" at least for me. When I was young, my family fostered a girl for about 4 or 5 years on and off. I was an only child. She was about 8 years older than me. The pain of her coming and going and the things she brought with her into the family were not easy things to be part of as a kid. I was exposed to some issues at a young age that I wish I hadn't been. Now that I am an adult, with kids of my own, I totally understand why my parents did what they did and I've forgiven and gotten over any of the pain that resulted. As an adult, I'd do it all again. But I do remember what it was like to be the other kid and my desire to foster has been tempered by my desire to "protect" my own kids from the same issues. I'd certainly be taking your advice Simone and fostering children younger than my own.

Sally said...

Hi everyone,
we fostered an almost 2 year old boy years ago when our only child was 18 mths old. It was very tough for the first month but then he settled in and became one of the family for the 7 months he was with us. I do think everyone should foster at least, but only if their situation is stable and if their children are totally convicted too (then they won't resent the hard times).
My children (I now have 5 of my own) love the idea of bringing a non-believing child into the care and protection of a christian family and introducing him/her to Jesus. Like my 10 year old said once, "It's just like what God does for us!".