So here’s one of my CD tracks: if more Christians built relationships with unwed mothers, maybe we could make a bigger (and more positive) impact on the abortion debate in our country than we do by holding signs and shouting. If we thoughtfully reconsidered our current welfare plan (“thoughtfully” means Republicans accept that spending some government dollars might be necessary and Democrats accept that some big-time accountability might be, too), perhaps we could make it easier for these moms to keep their babies. If we consistently provided excellent care for foster children, maybe people would actually associate Christians with sacrificial love (and most likely our cities would have lower crime rates, poverty levels, and education problems).
In other words, if we helped the families in our own communities maybe we’d earn the right to share our views on “family values.”
Adoption, especially of the international variety, has been trendy for a while now, and it’s no small thing. When someone adopts a child they are changing the culture of their family and the trajectory of several lives.
However, I’m glad to see a new interest in foster care, as well. Each week I hear of more churches, like LifeBridge in Colorado or the dozens banding together to “Change Who Waits” in Virginia, presenting the problem and mobilizing their people to take action.
Foster care is costly in a different way; although (or because) most foster families don’t adopt the kids they care for, there are unique stresses, emotional costs, and problems connected to this choice. Instead of bonding with an infant or young child, the foster parents must often relate to an older child traumatized by abuse, neglect, and the huge stress of being shuffled from home to home. In other cases, they may fall in love with a baby only to be forced to give him back to a home they don’t feel good about.
It’s difficult, but it’s never been more needed. National agencies estimate 500,000 American children are currently being raised by the state (which, speaking of costs, ain’t cheap). Girls who’ve spent time in the system are six times more likely to become unwed mothers themselves before they reach 21. One-third of our country’s homeless population was once in foster care. Half of the kids in foster care eventually drop out of high school.
Matt and I have talked about stepping up as foster parents someday. I’m not saying every Christian “should” do the same thing. But I am saying every Christian has been called to care for the forgotten, the hurting, and the orphan. I’m saying more than 134,000 of these kids need to be adopted even if they’re not as cute as Asian toddlers. I’m saying we could profoundly change our country and change a generation if we all got involved. And I’m saying that the more I read, the more I think we’d better have a pretty good excuse ready if we don’t.