Fostering is a Family Thing
By-Jacqui Jackson, CEO - Ignite Hope
Over the past couple of years we have been privileged to meet, connect with and do life alongside several families who are involved in fostering kids from hard places. It’s kind of life like going full circle for me, because I’m still very close with my Foster mom and my brother and sisters who mothered me in the middle. I know that this isn’t the case for every placement, but I am so grateful to God for having a wonderful experience.
I was my family’s first foster placement and they had several more after me, so apparently I didn’t scare them too badly. I remember hearing stories of my foster mom bundling me up and taking me to her kids’ schools where all the kids would Ooh and Aah and cuddle me. She had three bio kids and without any hesitation she wrapped her love around me too. Then she wrapped her love around my mom and dad when they flew in country to adopt me….Oh Yeah - all of this happened in another country - but the sentiment is the same.
Kiddo in a hard place, needs respite, sanctuary, safety and love. Enter one Rock Star family - be it a single foster mom with a supportive network, a childless couple - by choice or by age and stage - who parents in the parenthesis, or people who are married with kids and decide adding another monkey to the barrell will be just fine.
When it works well, it just works so well. A child has the opportunity to see what a real family looks like - a real family - not a perfect family...a present family. There are the usual growing pangs, and sometimes there’s just the extra stuff with transitioning and trust, and bigger things too - but the benefit to the child in need, the benefit to the family serving them, truly the benefit to society as a whole cannot be overstated.
Recently we learned that the greatest need facing Vulnerable Children in America isn’t families willing to adopt, it’s actually families willing to foster. And Yes, I know - it seems a little scary - this unknown way to do life. Several sweet, prayerful families we know have shared that they’d love to help but they are scared of falling in love with a child and having to release them one day.
There’s no sugar coating it - Yes - that hurts. How could it not. If you have a heart filled with empathy and compassion for the least of these and you do love wholeheartedly and the day comes to say goodbye - that is so rough. But y’all - consider the 7 year old who has never experienced a healthy family setting. A ten year old with world weary eyes who has just seen way too much and needs a safe space to heal. A teen whose heart cries for someone to really SEE him or her. That is so much harder.
I’ve seen the other side. I saw it when my son’s foster mom said goodbye to him, so he could say hello to me. I can’t even type that without crying. The love there. I could see it. I could feel it rolling off of her and all over me, and my heart broke a little...ok, it broke a lot...but she loved recklessly. She loved my little one, recklessly - when I wasn’t there yet to shower that love on him. He never missed a day of being loved like crazy - by his first family, by his foster family and now by his forever family. Her sacrifice saved his heart any missed beats of love.
That is precious. It is worthy and it was so needed...for him. It’s so needed...for the thousands of kids still waiting...for you.
Today, Ignite Hope stands up and honors FOSTER FAMILIES WORLDWIDE who are doing the heavy lifting for God’s Kids. We love you, we honor you and we thank you. Amen!