Today we went to a foster care and adoption conference put on by Focus on the Family in Orlando. It was a great encouragement for the church to rise up and live out James 1:27 which says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
Father to the fatherless
Defender of the weak
Hope for the hopeless
We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these children and teens. We are to be the fathers and mothers to the fatherless, the defenders of the weak, and the hope for those that are hopeless.
I got so much out of the different speakers today. I laughed and cried. Two women shared stories of how they grew up in abusive situations, were removed from the home and then later on were placed with loving, patient couples that displayed Christ's love to them. They both are now married and successful women that love the Lord.
The speakers did not sugarcoat the adoption process or the children that need families. They did not tiptoe around the fact that this could possibly be the hardest thing you take on in life. But it is oh SO worth it!
I realized today how selfish I have been in my thoughts on adopting or fostering. We had such high expectations for the kids in the past and wanted so much from them in return without realizing it. These children have NOTHING to give in most cases, especially at first. If we bring a child into our home and he or she disrupts things, so be it. If that child lives with us and never learns to trust or love us, so be it. Don't get me wrong, that is an important goal but we will still have been obedient to love and be a family to that child. This year I taught AWANA with an older man at church. He and his wife have adopted 4 children from foster care. Two of them were teens when placed with them. They never really adjusted completely or attached to the parents. When they became adults they went off and don't contact their parents much. Is this sad? Yes. Does he regret adopting them? No way. Would they do it all over again? YES! They were obedient to God; they shared the love of Christ and family to them and will still welcome them with open arms now. Did my friend and his wife get a picture-perfect family situation and children that just adore them? No.
Family is messy. Biological, adopted or otherwise. We all have drama and issues and baggage. The Lord is able to overcome it all and transform lives.
Much of this and other truths God spoke to me about, I am still processing. It is so hard to wrap our human, selfish, prideful minds around this kind of unconditional God-love that is required.
We also got to meet the woman that will be teaching the 8-week adoption classes we signed up for in October. We are working with a local agency that places waiting children with families. There are currently 750 waiting children in Florida. This means their parental rights have already been terminated and no other family member can take them. They belong to the state. There are also roughly 19,000 children in Florida's foster care system at any given time that at least need a safe, temporary home. It is heartbreaking. There are over 15,000 churches in Florida...these children should have to "wait no more".
Will we, as the church, rise up in obedience to God's word and take care of the weak, hurt and vulnerable? There are many ways to be involved. Just obey.