Yes, absolutely and without a doubt, Christians should prayerfully consider foster care. Not that everyone will be in a position to take in foster children, and it’s not God’s will for everyone to be a foster parent, but Christians should at least be open to the possibility.
The foster care system is run by the government and exists to provide a service to families who are struggling. Sometimes, children must be moved out of their homes in order to provide more safety, stability, and opportunity. A foster parent’s role is to provide a nurturing, safe environment for children in families in need of help, until such time as the children can be reunited with their families. Foster parents partner with birth parents and intermediaries (i.e., social workers), to offer mentoring and other support and work toward putting the family back together.
During a recent calendar year, an estimated 269,690 children entered foster care in the U.S. (source: the Children’s Bureau division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). There are currently over 400,000 children in foster care—a number that has been increasing in recent years. So the need is great. Children and families in crisis need trained, compassionate people who can help heal the emotional and physical hurts those children have experienced.
Christians should consider foster care because we are called to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13–14). Foster parents are difference-makers. Taking in a foster child may not change the world, but it will change the world for that child.
Christians should consider foster care because being a foster parent is a wonderful way to demonstrate the love of Christ. Jesus had compassion on the “harassed and helpless” multitudes (Matthew 9:36); He received children to bless them (Mark 10:16); He taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31). Fostering a child moves us beyond theoretical discussions of love to the place where we are showing bold, practical love.
Christians should consider foster care because of God’s commands to care for the orphan and the needy. “Defend the weak and the fatherless” (Psalm 82:3; cf. Isaiah 1:17). Most children in foster care are not literally fatherless, but they are all experiencing a separation from their birth families, and they need defending and care. Protecting vulnerable children shows the heart of God.
A Christian family would seem to be a natural choice for foster care, for these reasons:
➣ foster care shows the love of Christ
➣ foster care supports and preserves families
➣ foster care can be a mission field within your own home
➣ foster care is pro-life
➣ foster care helps heal the brokenness of the world
➣ foster care is conducive to a saner, more stable society
Many of the objections to becoming a foster parent have to do with personal feelings of inadequacy or a perceived lack of resources. Countering those objections are the many agencies that provide training, resources, and ongoing support for foster families. And, really, what’s most important in a foster home is love for the kids and a stable environment.
Foster care is not for everyone, but every Christian can be involved in helping children and families in need. We can pray for the children being removed from their homes, for their birth families, for their foster families, and for their social workers. If we can’t foster a child ourselves, we can still offer help and support to foster families: providing babysitting or meals for foster families, covering sports fees for a foster child on a soccer or baseball team, driving a foster child to piano or dance lessons, mentoring a foster child, or starting a foster care ministry at church.
The need for foster care is great, and we have a great God who wants to use His people in great ways to make a difference in this world.