Think about your group of friends, the people you attend church with, or even your own family, and you might notice more of them are talking about or are currently fostering. Still, many of us don’t even really know what being a foster parent means. Can foster parents have their own kids? Do foster parents have to have their own kids? Do they have to be married? Are foster parents just weirdos who enjoy riding the constant emotional roller coaster of loving kids who will ultimately leave and break their hearts? Why are so many of your friends foster parents?
Our family’s foster care journey began years before we started fostering. Before we got married, we had many conversations about how we’d love to grow our family both biologically and through adoption. We knew it wouldn’t be an easy process, so we agreed to look into it after our youngest daughter’s first birthday.
During that time, we went to a foster care and adoption event at our church. I remember talking with my husband afterward saying, “I just don’t think it’s something we could ever do.” I don’t know if you’ve ever told God, “Hey, it’s really cool that You’re working through people who are doing ____, but I’m never going to do that.” If you’ve talked to God like this, then like us, you’ve probably also been amazed at how fast God asks you to do ____ anyway.
God kept bringing foster care to our attention. We heard about how 400,000 kids in the U.S. are in state custody with many just waiting for a family to take them in. We learned the Church alone could end the orphan crisis. Then, our friends started to jump into this weird world of foster care. Suddenly, our hearts began to soften (my husband’s faster than mine). We couldn’t shake this feeling that our plan to grow our family wasn’t the same as His plan to grow our family.
One year, on Mother’s Day actually, Pastor Craig preached a series called Outlasters about how to leave a legacy. I knew I needed to tell my husband something, but I really didn’t want to. I hesitantly turned to him and said, “I think we need to foster.” His response? “Yup. I was just waiting for you to be on board.”
It’s been almost three years since we dove into foster care, and it’s been a challenge. We’ve fostered six different kids, spent nights worrying about their future, our marriage, and how it’s affecting our own children. But we’ve also seen God move mountains! We get to watch God take care of these children and grow our hearts. Our daughters love welcoming kids into our home and taking care of them. They see a world beyond our bubble with people who need our help, and our family is closer because of it. Still wondering why so many people are signing up to foster and adopt? Check out what these foster parents had to say about why they chose to step into this calling to take care of God’s children.
“We finally became involved in foster care when our oldest son came home and told us he had a friend at the children’s shelter who had no place to go because her dad went to jail and her mother was out of the picture. He told us that he didn’t understand why kids had to be in shelters when almost everyone he knew had a guest bedroom in their house. We’ve had over 20 children with us. We continue to foster because we know that we have learned more from these children than we could ever teach them.”
– Tonya & Phil Nichols
“My husband has always had fostering on his heart. I was reluctant and wanted to go the adoption route to start our family. It was the day before our appointment to turn in our adoption papers, and I was serving at our church. I felt a strong pull toward fostering. After the service, we signed up to become foster parents. I can’t imagine our lives any different.”
– Staci & David Diaz
“We chose to foster after a long road of infertility and miscarriage because we still believed God called us to be parents and help children know they’re loved and wanted—whether that’s for a week, a month, or forever. We truly believe the Lord brought us through everything so we could love deeper, experience more of His goodness in life through this process, and appreciate the gift of parenthood more than ever!”
– Melissa & Jeremy Collinson
“Fostering has been a remarkable spiritual growth catalyst for our kids. They are changed profoundly by it. Now they see broken people in need of a Savior as just that instead of judging them for being “bad.” We tell our youngest, “We would never have known what a wonderful big sister you are unless we brought younger kids into our home for you to love, lead, and nurture.” All three of my kids have randomly said their base assumption is that they’ll foster and/or adopt when they’re adults.”
– Kendra & Brannon Golden
“We foster in response to a great love that was first shown to us. We were both raised by incredible parents who mentored, discipled, and provided homes for those in need. Our uniquely similar upbringings made a much clearer path for two single, foster parent, twenty-somethings to find each other and fall in love. ”
– Abby & Josh Ramirez
“Our small group was looking for a way to get involved in a local mission. We started by going to volunteer with kids in a shelter. We would make dinner with them, play games, make dessert, play outside, etc. There was one particular night that we showed up and there was a tiny little boy, probably around 18 months old, in teal footie pajamas. I remember leaving that night thinking “What do we have to do to give that boy a home?” We immediately knew we had to be involved.”
– Paige & Michael Lane
“We were burdened for the orphan long before we walked into a foster agency. We had been waiting for the “right” time for 14 years. God never let go of our hearts, so one day we decided it was time to do this on God’s timing. Little did we know our future sons were already in care waiting for us.”
– Tamra & Chris Brady
“We know God has placed an undeniable call on our lives to be foster parents, and we want to model unconditional love for our kids. Every child deserves to feel safe and loved and cared for, and if we can provide that for even one child, we will do it. We also want to be a support and resource for the biological parents as they go through the process of getting their kids back home—and even after they go home.”
– Jen & Josh Hamilton
“Somebody had to, and it might as well be us. We were exposed to a specific need with a specific family and had an opportunity to partner with a mom during a really challenging time in her life. It’s a way for our entire family to serve another family and stretch ourselves to live a risky life by sacrificing our comfort.”
– Audi & Matthew Day
“We started foster care because we felt a calling from God and knew we had extra love to give. Knowing that we are positively impacting so many lives is an amazing feeling, and since starting foster care, we can’t fathom not being a part of it. Foster care has truly changed our life for the better.”
– Kyli & Tyler Wood
“I choose to foster because every child deserves to know how it feels to be loved unconditionally and to feel safe. I know God called me to foster and to reflect His heart through this incredible journey.”
– Gina Stepanik
If you’ve been considering foster care, talk to someone who’s been there, and ask God if that’s the right next step for you. The book of James tells us, Religion that God accepts as pure and without fault is this: caring for orphans or widows who need help … James 1:27 (my emphasis). Maybe your role is to be a foster parent. Maybe it’s to cook meals, donate clothes, or babysit for a foster family you love. God has given you a unique set of gifts; find where they fit and use them!