Foster Parents Do Make a Difference in the Lives of Foster Children
By Saundra L. Washington D.D.
Judith Viorst, in her best seller "Necessary Losses", discusses how we are forced to grow beyond the losses that are an inevitable and necessary part of life. For children forced into the child welfare system, the loss was necessary for their own well being and safety. These children had to be temporarily or sometimes permanently removed from their biological environment due to neglect, abandonment or abuse.
Foster parents are wonderful people empowered with the courage and fortitude to open up their hearts and homes to foster children. They understand that becoming a foster parent is a special mission or calling requiring the ability to be a guiding and supporting influence on young hurting souls. They realize that there is absolutely no alternative equal to another family environment when children, through no fault of their own and for whatever reason, can no longer live with their biological families and they have willingly stepped up to the challenge of making a difference in the life of a child.
I both admire and salute all foster parents because foster parenting is a demanding commitment. Not only are they required to acknowledge the bereft foster child's difficult emotions when first placed in their home, integrate the child into their family, teach the child the family's rules and rituals, routines and expectations, engender feelings of safety and security, but they are also required to work cooperatively in efforts to reunify the child with his/her birth family and so much more.
Yet, I believe there is such a wondrous power in the gift of human love and compassion. New life emerges in hearts of hurting children longing for unconditional love, tenderness, compassion, patience, understanding and hope. When foster parents reach out and lovingly touch a child, they infuse something priceless of themselves into the very soul and essence of another. When they touch a child in empathetic, kind, gentle, healing ways, they may be incognizant of the lasting impressions they are imprinting upon the child's mind screen with each loving word, gentle embrace, and warm encouragement.
The power of love and compassion is awesome. There is something subtle, magnetic; redemptive that mysteriously transmits to the child in a positive, healthy and permanent way. It is the ministry of healing; the most lasting and meaningful kind of human touches. It is the silent, holy, and powerful contagion of a foster parent's influence.
Literally thousands of lives have been positively affected by foster parents who have volunteered their homes, their lives, and selves to these children. As a former foster child myself, I can attest to the sustaining power that an understanding look or warm embrace can have on crushed spirits. I know what a loving foster home environment is. It is more than just a place to sleep comfortably and it is more than wiping away sad tears, but it is a refuge from the world of chaos. Foster Parents do make a difference.
Staff at the Children's Place at Home Safe wear shirts with the inscription: When all is said and done all that matters is that I have made a difference in the life of a child. What a great testimony!
If you have not thought about it before, "now is the acceptable time to consider becoming a foster parent. You remember what Jesus said in the gospel of Mark?
"Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me." Mark 9:37.
People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16.
The need for loving foster homes is GREAT! There are children waiting for families in your community. If you have room in your heart to give the gift of hope and healing and if you have room in your home to provide safety and stability for children who have been neglected, abandoned, or abused, please consider becoming a foster parent.
Floridians, call 1-800-981-KIDS or visit: www.childrensplace-homesafe.org for more information.
About The Author
Saundra L. Washington D.D. is a veteran social worker, clergywoman, and Founder of AMEN Ministries. You are welcome to visit us in your leisure at: www.clergyservices4u.org.