Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Practical Advice Regarding Foster Children in Church Settings

First of all, let me tell you my tone - consider this post as being written by the mother Bethany as well as "the pastor's wife" Bethany. This post is intended to encourage and aid all believers as we gather together. 

Foster parents: 
First of all - If you are considering a dangerous or defiant young person, please take into consideration the rest of your church body. You might be ready to tackle the situation head on... but is the rest of the church body? Will it be safe to have this young person around other children?

Secondly - Please attend all church services with your foster child. Please do not ever send them in someone else's care. It is just too much of a responsibility for someone who has not been trained (not to mention legal ramifications). And, if your foster child is older and has been exposed to behaviors in the past that are unthinkable, then please consider keeping your child at all times within your sight! It only takes a few moments alone to create great problems. Staying with your child and monitoring him closely could prevent a multitude of sins.

To the church body:
Foster children are not aliens. They are not (necessarily) to be feared from the onset. You do not know why the child is in "the program" and you should not talk about the child behind his back like he is a cancer to avoid. Love the foster child. Pray for him. Talk to him the way you talk to all the other children within the church. And, just as you would for the other children, try to cultivate the positive interests and skills of the foster child.
At the same time, guard your children at all times (as you always should) to keep them from dangerous situations with another child alone, behind closed doors, etc.

Do not run in and give a new foster child a hug. It might seem like a loving thing to do, but it might be at best awkward and at worst seemingly abusive to the child. Ask the foster parents about what your behavior should be towards the child if you have any questions.

The best thing you can do is pray - though it will be a seemingly thankless effort. The next best thing you can do is love on the care givers. Hug them (if you are on hugging terms). Pray with them. Talk to them.

This is not a time for gossip. If you have a problem go straight to the parents with your concerns.

Lastly, remember that having foster children within the church body might be a great opportunity to plant or fertilize seeds of the Gospel into that young one's life.


Krista said...

I am in agreement with your remarks in this post.

That being said:

I am grateful that both sets of our foster children were received with love and understanding at our church. Granted, they were all under the age of 5 with 2 of them babies, so I kept a mindful eye on them. We, as foster parents, are very protective of the children in our home as they are our responsibility.

As a church family, another thing that can be done is ASK the foster parents if anything is needed. We were blessed with gently used clothing, toys, offers of play dates and even had a meal brought to our home.

Foster parenting can be lonely. It's not the same as having a newborn, yet the first few days and weeks result in the same needs and sleepless nights. There are no baby showers or meal trains. Even if the child(ren) are older, they are still "new arrivals". It's not a job, it's a calling. I had to humbly ask for help with the second set of foster kids, because we felt so isolated with the first set. A church family's support is priceless. Just another way of helping the orphans.

-Cousin Krista

Bethany in mid-MO said...


Great input! Thank you.

We were able to give Rebecca's baby clothing to foster parents as she outgrew them. That was a good use for them!


Bean said...

We had friends who had a very unfortunate experience with a sibling group they fostered. The three sisters were grade school age, the oldest perhaps nine, they had been sexually abused, and unfortunately ended up abusing the foster parents biological children, it was quite an ordeal for everyone.
The foster parents had fostered many children over the years, and had never had any major issues with the children they fostered, generally they were infants, one time a teenager who had a baby, and was expecting another baby, other sibling groups for short periods of time. They always welcomed the children into their home and provided them with a stable, loving environment. After this traumatic event they stopped fostering.
I always felt that if we were to foster it would be after our own children were grown and out of the home.

Mama in Uganda said...

This is a great post--coming from a pastor's wife with many, many foster children.

Thank you for being lovingly honest and truthful.