Two years ago my husband and I were in a Bible Study. If a political satire cartoonist came into that room and, after 5 minutes, drew a caricature satire, it would be of a bunch of “Gun Toting Republicans.” All white. All pro-life. And not a person in the room, including myself, had a single foster child in their home. Hold tight and don’t get your knickers in a twist . We will be jumping back and forth between Red and Blue and even Purple (combo of Red and Blue for those of you who didn’t catch the color blend). Lets just say I am an equal opportunity offender today.
There was a particular group of men speaking about being pro-life and I decided to pipe in, probably in a not so loving and overly haughty way. “You know, just saying with your mouth that you are pro-life, doesn’t make you pro-life.” This is where someone should have thrown down a pen so we could hear it drop. Expressions went from confusion to irritation. I realized immediately that I should work on my delivery a bit more in the future.
I was fiery and sensitive on the subject; sensitive and disturbed by the apathy of the church that seems so willing to say “pro-life” with their lips, yet only a very small fraction actually open their doors to a foster child. Being pro-life stretches much farther than outside of the womb. It is about valuing all phases of life. It’s about loving on vulnerable woman who need someone to speak life into theirs and have an ongoing need for support, regardless of whether she aborts or not. She needs loving and safe arms. She and her baby need a church that is willing to stay with them and get messy.
The children in foster care are from women who could have aborted. Life was chosen, and through a series of dark events, their children find themselves, at no fault of their own, “in the system.” But where are all the pro-lifers? Where are the folks who begged for these women to give life to their baby? When that baby enters the world and is dealt a really hard hand, where are those same folks who should be standing by their doors, ready to open them for these children? Foster care is an extension of being pro-life. Being pro-life means valuing life at all phases, from womb to world thru end of life.
2017 was a big year where Human rights were advocated for in big ways. People were marching for Chains of oppression to be broken. There have been marches in every major city, hashtags galore, and bold stands were taken to bring awareness to oppression that should be liberated. At the exact same time these marches were taking place, Department of Children and Families (DCF) were calling foster parents, begging them to take in another child. These families are strained and maxed out, but there are not enough beds. Kids are entering the system in record numbers and there are not enough homes willing to open their doors for them.
One week in particular, a big Nation Wide March was about to commence, and we received a call from DCF Placement at 11pm. “Hi, yes, we have a 9 month old baby girl at the police station and we cannot find anyone to take her in. Would you be able to?.” “Yes, of course,” I said. “Well, she is black,” said the women on the phone. “Bring her. Why would you even have to say that?” I asked. “Many people won’t take in a black child” she replied. Moments of silence engulfed the call as I processed the sickness of that statement. Later I found out this baby girl’s mother had also been in the foster care system. This mother was at one time an oppressed black child who had not been handed a fair chance at life, who grew up to be a black woman and was still facing that same oppression that she had been shown as a child. And now she is replicating it because, well, that is all she has known! So while these marches went on for Human Rights, there were (and still are) children all over, who are oppressed, whose parents were oppressed as children and are now having children themselves, and the cycle continues. Yet very few of these marchers are taking in these children, or actively support the families that do. This oppression goes way beyond just race, however, I do feel like that example was a good real life illustration. Hash tagging and marching didn’t help this mama who lost her child to the system. And the marching wasn’t doing a thing for this beautiful baby girl who DCF was begging for someone to open their door for. This mom is now pregnant again with her 3rd child who will be entering the system just like her previous 2 children … just like she did as a child.
Of our 11 placements that we have fostered, 9 of them had parents who grew up in the foster care system. Each of these parents has multiple children who are now in the system. Can we take a step back and take in the gravity of that snowball cycle of oppression?
We have both sides of the aisle verbally advocating to fights against Human Trafficking also, and rightfully so. There are black tie galas with champagne, and 5k races with matching shirts and medals, yet very few are passionately and actively supporting foster families. Even fewer are fostering. Studies show that 60%-80% of child sex trafficking victims recovered by the FBI are from foster care or group homes. “Victims are trained to call sex traffickers “daddies” and themselves “wifey” – a perverted reflection of the family unit that these children are seeking. These children long for a family…even if it means being subjected to extreme violence and abuse.” -case.org. Gaining awareness and helping sex trafficking victims is vital, but instead of focusing on pulling them out of the river, we must focus on never letting them step foot in the river in the first place. Stable foster homes are one of the major antidotes for curing human trafficking.
Now that every side of the aisle and in between has been picked on, where does this leave us? Yes, people can still converse about being pro-life! Yes, marches and hashtags should still take place to bring awareness! But nothing will change if all we are is simply “aware.” If all of this stops at awareness, then all we did was just create noise. If we TOOK ACTION, just a fraction of the amount that we spoke about it, Facebook commented, and hash tagged our hearts out about, then a level of oppression could be lifted that has been hovering like a cloud and suffocating kids in the system for decades.
“They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.” – Radical, by David Platt.
Foster Care is Pro-Life.
Foster Care is Human Rights.
Can we do this together?
Not everyone is called to Foster, but many more should be fostering than currently are. Everyone should either be opening their doors to a child in foster care, or actively supporting a family who is. For practical steps see Dear Church; Be the Village ).