|How many kids are hidden from view, waiting to be found, waiting for a home?|
These past few months in Weatherford, I've had the privilege/opportunity to be in regular communication with a Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) employee and a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteer. I've heard stories that have broken my heart time and time again. It was from the CASA volunteer that I heard the following statistics, which my CPS contact estimated to be accurate: In Parker county there are more than 350 children currently in or in need of foster homes. In Parker county there are 8 or 9 foster families.
I heard this a few month ago. I recalled it again yesterday morning while with my CASA friend. Does it not seem outrageous? First, that there would be so many children in need of good parents or caretakers is astounding. Second, that only 8 or 9 families here in the heart of the Bible Belt would be willing and able... The word appalling comes to mind. As does this scripture:
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:27)
There are a variety of reasons for this unmet need:
- Honest, innocent ignorance: Many just don't know. I wouldn't had I not interacted with these people.
- Chosen ignorance: How many people talk to CPS employees or CASA volunteers everyday, possibly even hear a story or two, but never ask what the needs are? I only know because I specifically asked.
- "Horror stories": There have been people robbed and hurt by foster kids. Some foster parents' own kids have been abused. THIS IS THE VAST MINORITY OF EXPERIENCES. Yet these stories are the newsworthy stories, and the news has had an effect on some.
- Lifestyle preferences: Some just don't want to have their lives changed or upended.
A friend mentioned that he'd once had friends mention that they considered being a foster parents, but they thought they might get too attached to a child, and then it would hurt too much too let the child go. Somehow this seems the worst of all possible motivations. I thought: "One day your wife or husband will die and that will hurt a lot. Does that mean you should not have married?"
I'm not saying every family should be foster parents. Some are ill-suited for a variety of reasons, both good and bad. Others can't meet the requirements. I'm not sure Liao Sha and I can meet the requirements in Arkansas.
Nevertheless, in our time here, we've been alerted to a need, a need that we could potentially meet. Given how it has affected our hearts, to cast it aside, to forget about it, to allow it to slip from our consciences would be to reject the working of the God in us. For us, this may be the only faithful option available.
A man at men's group this morning mentioned that his father and mother were foster parents up until his mother died. In those four years, 22 children went through their home, from newborns to 16 year olds. When asked why they did it, he remarked that his mother replied: "Because at least once in their lives, I'll know they were loved."
That about sums it up for me.