Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Let them come…

If you weren’t in church Sunday, you didn’t hear the announcement Tabitha and I shared. Long story short, we’re currently in the process of becoming foster parents. It’s been in process for a while already, but we wanted to wait to let the church know until after we’d met with the social worker in charge of placing children with us. And that happened last week.
So…how cool is that?!

Here are more details, though if you’ve got questions I don’t cover, please ask. We’ve requested elementary school children since we both have full-time jobs and don’t want that to change. Given our relative youth, we presumed that middle or high school students would find better parents in another home. We’re open to a broad range of potential children for placement, including children from different ethnic backgrounds than us, LGBTQ youth, kids with behavioral challenges. Many children in foster care, of course, exhibit challenging behaviors, given the circumstances that often lead to a child’s removal. Some, however, have very special needs that we’ve asked not to take on, for now. You may know already that the foster care system’s primary goal is family reunification. Studies find that foster kids who find permanent placement in families of origin turn out better, on average, than peers who don’t. But should we foster a child (or two) for whom that isn’t an option, we’re open to being adoptive parents too.

In the meantime, we’re waiting, and aren’t entirely sure what that will bring or when the waiting will end. We’ve asked to begin with one child- we’re new parents, after all!- but the county’s needs are great, and many foster children have siblings. Maintaining those relationships matter, so perhaps we’ll find ourselves with two elementary age children (three is too many for our house). It could be in early July or August; we’re not quite sure. Probably before summer’s out is the most we know.

And that could mean, Plymouth Creek friends, you’ll soon have another child or two in your midst. That’s not certain, please be aware. Foster parents have different rights and responsibilities than birth parents. The main focus, of course, is on the well-being of these kiddos who’ve just experienced the trauma of leaving their homes. They might be confused over why, feel guilty, miss their parents, their siblings, their friends. Part of our job will be maintaining for them as much continuity as possible. In some cases, that might mean keeping the kids connected with a church (or synagogue, or mosque) they already attend. In fact, the county believes- and I wholly agree- the children have rights to practice religion as they see fit. We’ll invite them to join us at our church, of course, but if that’s not appropriate, we’ll be understanding, and I thank you for being so too.

But should the children we foster become active Plymouth Creekers for a time, that will be neat as well. Indeed, it helps me see our church with a new set of eyes; not just as pastor, but as potential dad. I like what I see in many respects, though I echo the sadness many of you (especially our parents) express about the slightness of our child population. We shouldn’t feel bad about that, but we could explore together what we have that might change this situation. 

And the best opportunity I see is a community of potential, additional grandparents and aunts and uncles, available to assist modern young families, often overworked and living far from home. You could, then, play with a child at the back of the sanctuary, while her parent leads worship or simply wants to take a break (for once!). A group could babysit some evening while parents go out for dinner to enjoy one another without kids. Jesus said, “Let the children come unto me; for such as these belong God’s Kingdom.” If you’re willing to be extended family for young families so desperately needing that in these fast-moving, uprooting days, they might come unto us, and we’d be glad to respond. In any case, I look forward to you playing that role for my soon-to-expand family!

Grace and Peace,

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