Thursday, March 12, 2015

Church: we are overlooking the overlooked

Question: How many foster families thru DHR in Shelby County, AL are available and willing to take children with special needs? Just take a guess......

Answer: One. And it is me.

Church, that is a problem. A BIG BIG problem.

I know what you are already thinking...."foster care is hard enough I just don't think I could handle a child with special needs"...."this is just not what I am called to do"....."i have enough on my plate already"..... "these kids should go to someone with a medical background"....and on and on it goes.

Let me give you the facts. When a child with special needs comes in to foster care, their county DHR office searches their database and typically they find no where to place the child.....especially in the smaller counties. No one who has said "I desire to care for this type of child". The county will then contact private agencies like Lifeline and Alabama Baptist but they rarely have families that will take kids with special needs. Side note: if you are a private agency foster family you would have to specifically request to be contacted about children with special needs, otherwise you will never hear about them.

At this point DHR will send out a statewide email to all the counties in the State. This is the last ditch effort so to speak before the child ends up elsewhere. And by elsewhere I mean living in a hospital for their whole lives. Or a group home. Or a nursing home.

Zee was a statewide email baby. I won't even let myself imagine where he would be right now if I had said no.

So my challenge to the church is simple. We need more people to step up and care for these kids. They are right here under our noses and we can't ignore them. 

We can't simply sign up to be foster parents to the cute cuddly shiny new babies and toddlers and feel like we are doing all we can. Shouldn't we let God tell us which children he wants us to care for?

Just take a look at this "Child Desired" form. I imagine when most people fill this out, they are simply overwhelmed by the idea of bringing a child in to their home who will someday leave. And I imagine because of that reason alone, many families think they just couldn't handle a child with special needs. I get it. Trust me.

But my mind says...what if I had to measure up to a form to have God DESIRE ME. 

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in Him.
Psalm 40:1-3

(This form has since been updated because a certain person got on the phone with the people who made the form and told them that is was ridiculous and offensive and they needed to change it. Halleluier. )

If you are in process to become a foster parent, please consider opening your heart to the least of these! If you are a seasoned foster parent, consider updating your child desired form!

I know. This is not for everyone. But it is for me, and I will continue to advocate for these kids....because THEY will bless YOU more than you can ever imagine.



Tuesday, March 3, 2015

To my ex-friends: I know you think I am crazy

I had the opportunity to speak to a group of single moms at a Foster Care retreat recently. I knew going in to it the "gist" of what I was going to talk about, but I didn't think about it too much because I knew the group would be small and I wanted it to feel more like a conversation instead of a "speech".

As I went through my single mom story, we started talking about how, as single foster moms, many people think we are crazy. They think we are not whole or equipped enough to do a job like this on our own. Then I said something I didn't expect. I began to talk about all of the "Christian" friends from my past who I had lost along the way because of this journey.

I knew that this was the case, but I guess I never really said it out loud before, and certainly not out loud to a room full of strangers. And it stung. A lot.

But the sad reality is, they just don't get it. We haven't always seen eye to eye, and over the years I have become more and more crazy, and they have become more and more...the same.

Jojo wasn't too big of a shock, because he was a newborn. And white. And although he has Down syndrome, he didn't have any major medical issues so he just appears to be a "normal" baby.

The 2 school age boys we took in for 10 weeks was pushing it. Why would I want to do this? Why add stress on myself and my "own kids"?

Then came Zee. He is just a whole situation as far as "they" are concerned. He has tubes running out of him for goodness sake. I think that was the nail in our friendship coffin. I was way overwhelmed when Zee came home. Way a lot. And you know what? My true friends were there for me with diapers and meals and prayers and support even from far away. And you know where my "church friends" were? No where to be found.

I think maybe they are under the impression that I am just trying to get attention.

Let me be clear: if I wanted attention, I would become a stripper. Not take on a medically fragile foster child on a ventilator. I barely leave the house now for craps sake.

However, I can see why they think I am crazy. I would have thought the same thing not too many years ago....I am so grateful I allowed God to take hold of my life and open my eyes. But I have come to a conclusion. It's not me. It's them. Let me tell you what I think is crazy:

People who put on the same fancy clothes and go sit in the same building 1-2 times a week. They stand. They sit. They stand. They sit. They hear a message. They worship GOD. The Holy God of the UNIVERSE....and they somehow manage to leave week after week....totally unchanged. Their lives stay the same. Aside from the fact that they attend church, they look just like the world. THAT is what I think is crazy.

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:46-49

I choose to have a crazy house on a firm foundation. 

I pray more Christians would stand up and be crazy with me.