I remember learning in high school that there were so many children who were given up and needed families – either because their mother was too young or unable to care for them, their family was poor and had no way to support them or they were simply unwanted. I came to the conclusion that if I were to have a family, I wanted to care for someone who is already here and needed a loving family.
My husband and I met at our church’s Young Adult group. He had been adopted when he was 15 months old. As we discussed marriage, he also did not have a desire to birth our own children. We married in our late 20’s and were very busy with our careers. He had his own business and I worked for a large corporation. Time went by quickly.
About ten years ago, we started taking steps to share the blessings God had provided us with those children and youth who needed families and homes. We had an extra bedroom, means, and love to share. We heard about a group at another church which was exploring how churches could support homeless/foster youths who were graduating from high school. The staff from the Mount Diablo School District, who worked with this population, was invited to come to our meeting to share information and help us with our goal.
After that meeting, we met with Mount Diablo School District Staff, another couple, and two foster youth to discuss more about how we might help those who were graduating and needed homes. That year, everyone was placed. One year later, we got a call from the Mount Diablo Staff that they had three siblings who had been living in their car with their Dad. Their Dad had died suddenly and they needed a home. We moved the two girls into our extra room, and my husband made part of our family room into a bedroom for the boy. These were good kids that through no fault of their own, needed a loving family. We helped the oldest girl through Vet Tech school, and were blessed to celebrate the youngest’s sixteenth birthday in our home. That was our first experience with foster care.
Over the years, another sister in Christ and I used to talk about our mutual interest in foster care and our heart for these vulnerable children. Through a Christian business group called Barnabas, we heard about a wonderful organization called Foster the City. We learned that in Contra Costa County there are about 1000 children in foster care, and roughly 30 percent of them need to be placed out of county due to lack of available homes. We were inspired by Foster the City’s dream to have a waiting list of families, rather than a waiting list of children.
We quickly decided to become advocates for this cause and our church leadership approved for us to become a FTC partner church. When we became a partner church, we were not aware of any families in our church with foster children. In less than a year, we had four families in various stages of becoming or considering becoming foster parents, and one family with a placement. We also trained 8 support friends. This was truly exciting to see God moving in our church!
That one family with a placement was us. I had already retired from my corporate position and my husband had finished building our new house. We had even more room to share, and time to give! We went through the Resource Parent training, and requested a youth in the 16-21 category. We knew that could be a difficult, yet rewarding time of life. We trusted God to lead and protect us all.
Shortly after we were certified, we got a call that they had a 15-year old youth who needed placement. We met with him, his current care giver, and the Social Workers at a park just to see how we clicked (or not). He has been part of our family now for over seven months. He is an amazing kid and we have been so blessed. He plays sports and wants to go to college. It has been a challenge learning how to relate, discipline, and care for a youth we have not raised from birth. We have had to work on becoming a family, learn how to develop and enforce expectations, share our values and our faith, and ensure we were always loving, respectful, and approachable. Our support friends are a God-send. They pray for us, supply meals twice a month and really help lighten the load. It is a great model.
In our retirement years, there are many ways we could spend our time and money, but none more worthy and rewarding than pouring our lives into caring for the vulnerable and orphaned. We may not be able to change the world for everyone, but we are changing the world for this someone.
1 Cor. 15:58 Be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord. For you know that anything you do for the Lord is never useless.