There’s a movie called Instant Family about a couple that opens their world to foster care and adoption. When the movie starts, they think it will be an easy journey, but they quickly realize just how difficult life as a foster parent can be. There’s a pivotal scene in the movie where everything goes sideways in a Wal-Mart. One child hides under a shopping cart while another throws a fit over a Barbie doll. The entire time, everyone in the store is staring at the family, silently judging them— “why can’t you control your child and keep them from making a scene in the store?”
My wife and I saw the movie opening night, and as this unfolded on the screen, I looked over at her and saw tears streaming down her face. My wife isn’t prone to public displays of emotion, but we’ve both experienced this exact situation—those exact feelings. This is our family’s world. We’ve been stared at in Target when our daughter screams “I hate you” or “leave me alone” at the top of her lungs. We know what it’s like to have everyone in the mall stare at our family— “why can’t you control your child and keep them from making a scene in the store?” It’s a lonely and isolating experience, and seeing it played out on the big screen brought my wife to tears.
May is National Foster Care month. It’s a chance to celebrate foster and adoptive families, and while it’s great that there’s a month to celebrate what our family does, that’s not what we really want. Our family didn’t become a foster family for recognition, because if that’s all we received, it’s not worth it. Rather, we became foster parents because of what Jesus said in Matthew 25:37-40:
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’”
That’s why we do foster care—for the least of these. I know one day I’ll stand before Jesus, and He’ll say “There were two girls who were hungry, had no clothes, were sick, abused, rejected, and neglected, and you took care of them. What you did for those two girls, you did for me.” That’s why we’re foster parents, and that’s who we want recognition from—Jesus.
So, what can you do this month to help and celebrate foster and adoptive families?
First, if you see a family struggling in public, don’t assume the worst. Our daughters were abused since they were infants, and when their parents did drugs, they’d lock them in an attic. Those experiences have a deep impact on a child’s psyche. When you see a meltdown at Wal-Mart or Kroger, remember you don’t know what kind of baggage that child is carrying. Instead of judging and condemning, respond in love and empathy.
Next, offer to support a foster family at Waymaker.Church through Mosaic Together. This is an opportunity for you to help foster families manage the daily stress of foster and adoptive care through simple acts of service. If you want to know more, you can fill out the interest form on the Waymaker.Church app.
Or, this month, consider being a foster parent. While the journey isn’t easy, it’s one way we can live out God’s command to care for “the least of these.” If you want to know more about becoming a foster parent, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.