The Two Words I Missed {On Church and Birthfamilies}

Her worker left it in our mailbox with her name on it.

She opened it like a priceless treasure, a note and pictures of her mama.

Cha Cha kissed them a million times and held them across her chest. 

And in a second my mind had transferred to fix-it mode...

We can help her get the car, the house, counseling, the job...

The old-me-foster mama had all the problems of this family's crumbled world stitched together within seconds through connections and economics {and maybe a little Jesus}.

Those were the days I had missed two critical words...

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. ~ Isaiah 58

Your people...

Not me and my togetherness rectifying the generations of brokenness....

My people...the people of God.

Foster families are not the only ones called to the world of foster care. In fact, they cannot be the only ones.

The only space that can generate true, Gospel-centered, redemptive discipleship and friendship with the families of children in care...is the CHURCH...your people...HIS PEOPLE.

So how can the Church loves birth families when foster families cannot?

My Awesome Church: Altadena Valley Presbyterian Church
Drum roll, please....

~How the Church can Love Birth Families~

1. Pray. Need I say more?

2. Make intentional space in your mercy ministry budget for appropriate loans and aid to families who simply have tangible items separating them from reunification, such as beds, dressers, etc.

3. Appoint a church member to each foster care case represented in your church, to call the birth family, invite them to lunch, drive them to needed court dates and visits. Regarding confidentiality, you don't have to know details to love.

4. Hold a reunification celebration for the foster and birth family when that long-awaited day arrives. They have done what few are able to.

5.  Consider having an adopt-a-birth family program. Allow spaces for families to commit to birth families post-reunification, specifically with letters of encouragement, back-to-school needs and Christmas.

6. Connect the birth families with churches in their area. Visit with them. They are much more likely to stay plugged into a church near their location.

7. Recruit transporters for each specific case in your church. You will be able to serve the foster family, the child welfare workers, and the birth family.

8. Maintain regular, intentional contact post-reunification. This cannot only be the responsibility of the foster family.

9. Provide an accountant and/or lawyer who is willing to help them understand legal and financial needs. Teach them to budget. Financial understanding is one the the more constant needs for families in crisis. Meet with them for reviews.

10. Connect them with organizations like Grace Klein Community, places that are willing to help with monthly food distribution and encouragement.

Friends, if we leave the entire burden of the foster care realm to those who hold it as an occupation and to the foster families, we are establishing a cycle for the ones endlessly caring for the traumatized to become traumatized and in crisis themselves.

The Body of Christ is called to foster care. The Church is called to foster care, and it is so much more than being a foster parent.

Because of the One who empowers us to rise ~.


  1. This is so well timed for me and provides some great ideas I can share with people who ask me what they can do. I am getting myself prepared for the reunification day for my foster son with his birth mom and grandmother and they have said they would like to stay in touch and keep me involved once he goes home.

    1. Lifting you up precious girl! Feel free to email if you need or want to talk!

  2. I read about your church support for birth families before, and it blows my mind in a good way. I would love to hear stories of how this has played out and lessons learned. Currently my foster son's birth mom is open with me, but I'm worried that the communication we're starting out with will quickly drain me when I can't do it all. Plus, I don't always know what help looks like when I don't really know the full history. Do you start by recruiting people to help as needed then ask the case worker about needs? Or directly ask the birth parent and connect them? I would love to know more!

    1. Christina, you're so kind! And we've learned the very hard way. Will work it in! Some of our families read our blog, so we sometimes mix our stories to honor them and their privacy. Feel free to email me at cafranktie@aol.com :)

  3. I really like these ideas but I think it does really depend on the birth family. The first birth family we had could have really benefited from these types of services and help
    . I've also had cases where the bios are not willing to do the work in parenting and after all is done, they will not provide for their children unless others are always helping them. I think this would do everyone who is involved a disservice. I guess, I've seen it and had my heart broken before where my kids are reunified only to come back out into foster care a few months later. I definitly agree that the church needs to be a help but there also needs to be a wisdom in when you should or shouldn't.

    1. Ivanna, thank you for your insight. We have learned to things...1. Every parent and family is worthy of hope. It is not our right to determine the end of their story. 2. It must come from the church so that it is not us determining the should or shouldn't, but a greater community and authority weighing in. We have had every child return home, and a wide range of responses from birth families. We are called to love, even when it's not pretty, but love does not always equal the same thing. Sometimes it is simply faithful prayer. Totally hear you in that it is so humbling that each case can be so different. So grateful for your heart.

  4. Yes, its so true. Every parent is worthy of hope and I truely do wish that on every birth family. But sometimes even with your help, the birth parents dont do simple things that are in their plan. So after awhile, I lose hope. So far in the cases I have had, the plans were pretty simple things to do and I was taken aback how "easy" it seemed considering what had been done to the kids. But I soon realized its more then the plan but how motivated are they to get their children back. Parenting is a very self less job and working their plan can show where their heart is at. I have also had a case where my husband and I were ready to hire a new lawyer, get housing for our birth family...in the end we didnt need to. Having our church to support us would have been great although Im certain we would have some confidentiality issues. The director of our agency goes to our church so I think we are almost put to a higher standard. We have 5 bio children, 4 foster children currently. All siblings but just 3 of them tprd last week. We will adopt them and hope to have an open adoption. I want to still help bio mom out but it has really been hard to get her to let us in. And thank you for responding. I always look forward to reading your posts and it always encourages me to be a better foster mom seeking out His wisdom in everything.