I didn’t know his name or the features of his face. I didn’t know his history or the reason he came into care. I didn’t know anything about him other than the tiny bit of information the social worker could provide: boy, age 10, in need of a loving home.
It was 4:00 p.m. the day before Thanksgiving, and we were a thousand miles away from home visiting family for the holiday. There was nothing we could do. We had to say no. The boy would spend his Thanksgiving holiday in a group home for teen boys.
According to the social worker, the little girl who needed a home was a bubbly 15-month-old who had already charmed everyone in the office. She needed a home, and it was an emergency. The department was willing to give us temporary approval to have an extra child in our home if we were willing to take her.
It was 5:00 p.m. on the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. The social worker was desperate. But we already had two foster babies, a 5-month-old and a 9-month-old, in addition to our 9-year-old and 8-year-old. Our family talked, and we needed to say no. The little girl would probably spend the weekend with social workers in the department office.
Throughout our training, we were assured that we would never be pressured to accept a placement. The social workers were honest and told us that they would probably call us for children outside the boundaries we had identified. The crisis was severe, and they were desperate to find enough homes for the children in their care. But they assured us that they would never count it against us when we said no. For any reason, at any time, we could decline to accept a placement.
There’s something they didn’t teach me in the training classes, though. Saying no to a placement would release me from the responsibility of caring for that child’s daily needs, but it wouldn’t release me from the burden of knowing about that child’s need.
Over the years, we only said no a few times, and I remember every single one of them. Even when the children didn’t come to live with us, the knowledge of them took up residence in our home. I carried the burden of their need with me for weeks, and I still think of them today.
Recognizing my own limits and coming face to face with my inability to solve the crisis was one of the most difficult parts of foster parenting. I was forced to trust God in a completely new and different way than ever before. My prayer life was radically changed, since prayer was the only thing I could offer in certain situations. My faith was fortified, since I couldn’t do anything other than trust that God would provide a loving home for the children I couldn’t help.
Every day, calls like the ones described above are going out to foster parents around the Bay Area. And every day, foster parents around the Bay Area have to say no because their homes are full. There’s nothing more they can do. So they pray, and they trust God to provide for these children.
What if you are the answer to those prayers? What if you lead your church family to provide a home for a child in foster care? What if you open your own home to provide for a child in need? Now that you know about these children, how will you respond?
To get involved with Foster the Bay and help provide loving homes for children in foster care, register to attend an upcoming Interest Meeting near you. See upcoming dates and RSVP here. We can’t wait to partner with you.