Not Different

It goes without saying that for quite some time conversations will linger regarding about how different 2020 has been. For many months, much has been out of the ordinary. Unanticipated changes have persisted. However, it is encouraging to hear people bring attention to things that have not changed: the steadfastness and unchanging grace of God, good emerging in spite of bad, and how people are doing remarkable things even in the midst of uncertainty and unforeseen challenges.

There are some things, unfortunately, that have not changed this year.
There are some things that have not been different.

Children are still being abruptly removed from their homes through no fault of their own.

Social workers are still in their offices on their phones at 2:00 a.m. trying desperately to find a family for a child to stay with.

Foster parents are still experiencing periods of loneliness and needing others to come alongside them and bear their unique burdens.

Children are still waiting to be adopted.

There are still teenagers who need someone who won’t give up on them no matter how complicated their story is.

Babies are still being born that are not going home with their biological parents and need families that can love and care for them no matter what medical challenges they’ve inherited.

Biological parents that are working hard to make changes in their lives and taking steps to be better parents are still in need of support.

Brothers and sisters are still being separated and sent to different locations because there are not enough foster homes for sibling groups.

Foster parents who already have children placed in their homes are still frequently getting phone calls asking them to take “just one more”.

It’s overwhelming to think about.
But we must.

And we cannot stop there.
There’s yet more that is worthy of our consideration.
More that has not been different this year and will not be in the next…

God’s heart still breaks when children made in His image are mistreated through abuse and neglect and experience trauma.

God still calls us to stand up for the vulnerable.

It is still true that those who have been entrusted with much should give much (our time, our abilities, our homes, our love).

Scripture still urges us to look out not only for our own interests, but also for the interests of others.

We can still do all things through Christ, even hard things, including being His hands and feet to children in foster care.

So much about this past year has been undeniably different,
but this remains the same:

Children in foster care still desperately need hope and help and refuge during their time of crisis and distress. And while it can look differently for each of us, it is still the Body of Christ that is called and best equipped to step in to their brokenness. May the coming year be different in that we love more, give more, pray more, and engage more on behalf of vulnerable children in foster care.

Q&A With a Foster Parent

What caused the Whitehurst’s to initially decide to pursue foster care?

            Jodi was told at a young age that she wouldn’t be able to have biological children. Because of this, Jodie and her husband knew that they wanted to pursue fostering and adoption from a very early point in their marriage. God miraculously gave the Whitehurst’s two biological children, a son and a daughter. After this, they still wanted to pursue fostering and adoption.

“We have always believed that fostering and adoption is a part of the ministry of the church.” -Jodi

After completing their training to become foster parents, they opened their home. One month after their first placement, they found out that they were pregnant with their third child. They kept their home open and it was at this time that they had their first placement.

 

How did you learn about The CALL?

They knew about The CALL through family friends who also fostered. While looking into fostering and adoption, they were told about the next informational meeting that The CALL was holding, and they attended it. Jodi started volunteering with The CALL in August of 2019. If you’d like to see more about her position, you can check out her Leadership Team Member Profile on our blog! While the Whitehurst’s were fostering, the person who trained them ended up being a good contact person for them and this proved to be very helpful while they were fostering.

“I love being able to see the stories of families that are still fostering because it keeps me connected to the children that we work with.”

 

What was your favorite experience in fostering?

            Jodi mentioned that the child who was placed in their home to be fostered had a lot of trouble going to sleep. Jodi would lay beside her at night and talk with her or read stories to her.

“There’s something about that time right before bedtime that makes children open up. It’s really just one-on-one devoted time.”

These were Jodi’s favorite moments of fostering because she was felt like it was amazing quality time with her foster child. She also loved bedtime because she would use this opportunity to pray with and for her foster child.

 

What was the hardest thing about fostering?

“To be honest, deciding to close our home was the hardest decision.”

After their first foster placement, Jodi and her husband prayed about whether or not they might be able to continue fostering with three young children in the house. They did not feel like they would be able to provide the adoptive home that their foster child deserved. Jodi and her husband would love to open up their home to fostering again one day.

 

What is one piece of advice that you would give someone who is interested in fostering?

“I always thought that I was a giver. I always thought that I knew what it meant to be a real servant and to serve people and serve God, but I don’t think that I really knew what it meant to sacrifice and to serve until I fostered.”

Jodi would tell others who might be interested in fostering that there is a lot of sacrifice involved, but in the end, the pay-off is completely worth it. She would also say that there is really no preparing for fostering

“One child will change the whole dynamic of your whole family. It completely changes your routine.” She encourages others to build a community that supports them in their fostering journey.

 

How did you talk to your biological children about fostering?

Jodi encourages other foster parents to be open, honest, and in constant communication with their children through the fostering and adoption process.

“When we fostered, it was a family decision. We made sure that our kids were old enough to completely understand. We also had a lot of family rules. We knew that this would have to be a whole family decision. My kids wanted to give.”

We are so thankful for the Whitehurst’s and the way that they have loved on and served this community.

Family waiting room revamp!

There are endless opportunities to serve and help out the community that supports foster/adoption.  Austin and Mandy Carter lead a team from their church, Sylvan Hill Community, to renovate the southwest DHS office’s family waiting room. This is an area that many children and families pass through on a day to day basis. They saw an opportunity to provide a need ofr families and they jumped on it! The reason? Here’s  why!
“We believe that as the church we are all called to “do something.” We cant all Foster/Adopt, but we can all do something. With the ultimate goal of reunification in the for front, what a great way show some love and support to the families that pass through the door, and to make a sometimes hard visit a little more inviting. Our hope for this room is hope. That is the design behind the “Dream Big” theme. The two rooms we have renovated were not in the best shape, with hand-me-down toys and furniture. We believe this can play a role in the interaction between the parents and children. We hope that the renovated rooms can spark a little hope for the future, and not for just the families, but also impacting the staff that walks by this room everyday.” – Austin and Mandy Carter