“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
As we get closer to Christmas, most of us tend to look for and ponder miracles, because as we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate the biggest miracle of all: the birth of a baby. We celebrate the gift of everlasting life and salvation that his birth and death brought to humankind. As foster and adoptive parents, we celebrate the miracles in our lives, the gift of the children God has brought us to love and care for. Whether they come into our homes for a short time or for a lifetime, they are truly gifts to be cherished and thankful for.
Many people imagine they could never care for foster children or raise someone else’s child; however, with faith, all things are possible. You too can give the miracle of a home filled with love, a place to feel safe and cherished to these children. So many of them wish for a family, hope for it, dream of it. With faith in God, you can answer their prayers.
It is no secret that the hardest age group for us to find homes for is teenagers. Everyone seems to fear these children, expecting them to have two heads or be capable of only bad behavior. Nothing could be further from the truth. While teens do present some interesting issues stemming from their lack of trust, their past hurts and fears, at the end of the day they are just children. Children who so desperately want someone to listen to them and to care for them. Someone to give them a chance to be loved and to love in return.
One of our recent initiatives focused on placing teens in homes that have previously not be open to caring for them. “Just Take One” asks you to open your home and heart stretching the boundaries of your comfort zone. Take one teen into your home and let them experience life in a family, where dinners together are the norm. Where there are parents who care and will guide them gently on their journey. Where they can be perhaps for the first time in their life, a role model for younger children. A chance to be part of a family. All too many of our teens have spent the majority of their time in foster care in group home settings, cared for by staff in a dorm. While we are so grateful for our group homes who take care of our teens, we know that ultimately these children deserve a chance at family life.
Recently, I had the chance to work with two new foster families who faced this new journey with some fear that they would not be able to accomplish this somewhat daunting task. While both had children of their own at home, they were willing to try fostering. Both, however, felt strongly that they needed to care for children younger than their own children in order to lessen the challenges they would face. What happened to both of these families this holiday season has been nothing short of the miracles I spoke of at the beginning of this blog.
I recently spent a great deal of time with the mothers in both of these families. I shared with them the stories of my own children, who came to me not as little babies or toddlers but as a young pre-teens and teens. I shared the stories of how their lives changed and how they changed mine. How 25 years later we are a wonderful family filled with each other and with grandchildren, a great daughter-in-law, and a wonderful son-in-law who my children brought home. The miracle of the changes in all of our lives came to us because of our faith that God could lead us through anything. And He has!
Within days of our visits, both of these families met teenage boys who spoke to their hearts. Boys they could not get out of their minds. Lisa and Eric were stunned that they were considering giving Thomas* a home. He would be their first foster placement and teens had NEVER been part of the plan; however, God had other plan.
Miraculously, the same thing happened to Heather and Bobby. They could not get Adam* out of their thoughts after a chance meeting with him. Consequently, just a week before Thanksgiving both of these families welcomed these young men into their homes. In both cases, the boys are now the “eldest child” in the home, and both of these teens have embraced the role. It has been wonderful to see the photos of these two families, to chat with them and see the changes already taking place in the lives of these young boys. They have helped with hanging Christmas lights, decorating trees, taking part in cherished family traditions which now include them. Both of the boys are talking about high school graduation and college. Both of them now have hope and a future. Miraculous!
Coincidentally, Thomas and Adam are attending the same high school, and these two families have each other to fall back on for resources and help. But for the most part, they have it all under control, with God’s help. At Kids Central, all of our hearts are overflowing as we watch what is happening with these two families. We are not asking them to take any more teens right now. They listened to God and to their hearts and just took one. The lives that are changing are not just those of Thomas and Adam. These families will never be the same. What they feared they could not do alone, they have been able to achieve by their faith.
Oh, it is still early in these placements and the road ahead will surely have some bumps and potholes, but don’t all of us face those every day in our own families? Yes, we get through them with faith. What wonderful gifts these families have given these boys. A home for the holidays and just perhaps … a home for a lifetime!
May all of your families be blessed this holiday season. And if you just happen to be thinking that you can open your heart and your home, well… you know how to reach me. We will get you started and I promise you if you ask for God’s help – you will get it!
*Names changed for confidentiality