Have you ever found that sometimes sound efforts to talk, support, organize and promote ministry can actually keep you from doing real, dirty ministry?
I had good intentions, really great ones actually for this May awareness month.
But then doing the "foster care" thing intruded on executing plans for Foster Care Awareness Month.
I'd take that any day.
However, my longing this month, as the nation turns its eyes to evaluate the ways it serves vulnerable children and families in crisis, is to be real with you on the issues we are currently facing.
But first, revisit this post from a year ago on the perspectives of foster care...
Excerpts originally posted May 1, 2013 ~
Foster Care from a dictionary's perspective:
(noun) the raising or supervision of foster children, as orphans or delinquents, in an institution, group home, or private home, usually arranged through a government or social-services agency.
Foster Care from a number's perspective:
There are approximately 500,000 children in the American foster care system. The exact number varies from moment to moment. The average age is 10, with more than 65% being between the ages of 10 and 18.
In contrast, there are just over 150,000 licensed foster homes nationwide.
The average stay of a child in foster care is 28 months.
Approximately 2 million more children are living in family preservation situations, meaning child welfare is involved and supervising the family in some way.
An average of 54% of children in foster care are reunified with their birthparents or primary caregiver, which is the goal.
Of the remaining 46%, 60% are adopted by their foster parents, and 25% by a relative.
There are just over 150,000 children available for adoption in the United States.
Each year, more than 20,000 children nationwide will age out with no family and no support system.
On the Alabama level:
There are approximately 5,035 children in foster care.
~ There are 1,720 licensed homes.
In Jefferson County, there are 1,013 children in care.
~ There are 215 licensed homes.
In Shelby County, there are 135 children in care.
~ There are 60 licensed homes.
Foster Care from Google Images' Perspective:
|Photo Credit: Messinalaw.org|
Foster Care from my Perspective:
Foster care is not caring for the true orphaned ones, necessarily. At times that has been the case for us, but seldom.
Foster care is not even as much about breaking a cycle. Because as foster parents, judges, lawyers, or caseworkers, we don't have that kind of power over a family.
Foster care is not about adoption. It could end there, but it is never the starting point, or even the middle.
Foster care is never about "fixing" or "rescuing."
Foster care is about standing in the gap. And there are some days, all I have accomplished is standing.
Foster care is about hoping, where the voices of shame have drowned out all vision and hope.
Foster care is about believing in a family, that sometimes has not been believed in for generations.
And foster care is not about numbers...
It is the little girl who shrieks through the night down the hall from my bedroom.
It is her daughter who flees from her when she sees her, then wails when it is time to leave her, unable to process anything that is happening.
It's the gal cutting my hair, who was bounced through five foster homes, reunified three times with the same family member ~ only to age out in the end...with no one.
It's the five-year-old banging his head against my door because no one has let him stay long enough for him to begin to grasp what attachment is.
It's the young man, running from his past, only to have his own son placed in care just as he was, because he has never been taught otherwise.
It's the teen mom who has one growing inside of her, and she is more excited than ever before because this is the person she thinks will never leave her.
It's the child in in-school suspension for the third times this week, just biding time in his fourth school this year.
It's the mama or daddy trapped in the system, with no one to help navigate.
It's the worker with 50 plus cases piled up, unappreciated and very underpaid.
It's the foster family who says yes to inviting trauma and grief into their home, again and again.
It's a system, spinning its wheels, but never quite moving forward.
Foster Care from God's perspective: Isaiah 58
Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter ~
When you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear;
Then your righteousness will go before you,
and the Glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
You will cry for help, and He will say: Here am I.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry,
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
Then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always!
He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins, and will raise up the age-old foundations;
You will be called the Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets will Dwellings.