Family Preservation Matters
In the last ten to fifteen years, we have seen churches rising to support foster and adoptive families across the country. We have witnessed congregations rally and celebrate foster families, recruiting possibly more than ever. It is vital work, as we will always need loving foster and adoptive families. But we will never truly address our foster care crisis without this being a two-pronged approach. Prevention should be one of our most significant areas of focus. In Jason Weber’s book, “More than Enough,” he explains it this way:
For far too long, we have passed off the job of restoring families in foster care to the government- a task that is nearly impossible apart from meaningful personal relationships- when we are the ones that have all the tools to do it.
Perhaps we didn’t know precisely how to serve in family preservation? Maybe we knew this would be messy and challenging and didn’t feel equipped to step into this place? Prevention matters and this is our work. I will outline three reasons I believe this and why we must fully support family preservation efforts.
“Foster care is ground zero. The place where our efforts will have the absolute greatest impact on our communities.” Adrien Lewis
We had been doing foster care ministry for three years before I heard this statement. I don’t think I will ever see this calling the same.
75% of our prison population has spent time in foster care.
One out of every three of our youth that age out of foster care will end up homeless.
60% of children rescued from trafficking were in the foster care system.
The number of cases of children entering the foster care system due to parental drug use has more than doubled since 2000.
So many churches have prison, homeless, anti-trafficking, and addiction ministries. Even more so the reason we need foster care ministries. With the gospel, building relationships, and supporting our vulnerable children and families, the cycle that perpetuates could be prevented. We could keep children safely in their homes, avoiding the trauma that foster care often brings.
2. As Christians, we are the ones who proclaim: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (Eph. 2:8). Can I get an Amen? We believe that we are all made new in Christ and that no one is ever too far gone to be redeemed. Foster care ministry allows us to put our words into action.
3. Adoption is trauma. As an adoptive parent myself, it feels almost like a betrayal to say this. As believers, we know our adoption by God as our Father is the most beautiful and unforgettable experience we can cling to this side of Heaven. But, it came with a cost that Jesus had to pay. We have to push aside this “Little Orphan Annie” idea of adoption. It doesn’t exist. Adoption is messy, and adoptees have a voice that has far too long been silenced. As the Church, we need to listen. We do a great job sharing about adoption from the pulpit, yet we have adoptive families in our congregations drowning in the after-effects of trauma. Research year after year proves that children do best when they can remain safely with their biological families. As the Church, we need to recognize this as well. After all, God created the family. It was designed to remain intact, and we need to do whatever possible to keep it that way.
We cannot deny that our creator spent his most active years of ministry running towards brokenness and the broken. He served individuals that religious people of that day actively avoided. Most of our families in crisis lack a support system. We must find ways to begin to fill this gap. Who is better qualified to work in family preservation than the family of God? The Church was made for this.