By Charlie Marquardt, MEd, MA, LCMHCA
According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, there were 17,280 children in North Carolina’s foster care system in 2018. The number is staggering. But God, in His goodness, has given many people in the church a heart for caring for these children. Numerous churches aid orphan and adoption ministries. Some churches have begun support groups for families considering adoption or who have adopted. It is wonderful to see the church work together to help children in need.
Unfortunately, there is so much more that needs to be done. Many children who are adopted out of foster care come with a great deal of pain and hurt. They were not taken from their birth families because life was good. Life has been hard for these children. The toll taken on adoptive and foster parents is important to consider as well. Parenting a child who has experienced trauma is not the same as parenting a child who has only known a loving home and secure attachments.
Many children have honed their survival skills. This helps for a life lived in a chaotic and dysfunctional home, but those skills do not translate well in a loving and caring environment. Lying to escape a beating is survival. But it isn’t needed in a loving home. Hoarding food because you aren’t sure when you’ll eat again is survival. But hoarding looks strange to someone who has never wondered where the next meal is going to come from.
Many children who have been through the trauma of living in an unsafe environment or who have had to leave their biological family because of homelessness, addiction or unsafe living situations need extra care. Most need counseling. Many adoptive parents and foster parents need help to assist these children through the confusing world of changing families and homes. At Agape, we are able to help children, parents, and adults who have walked the adoption and foster care journey.
You may not be called to adopt or be a foster parent, but as believers, we are all called to care for the orphans in our midst. Be on the lookout for ways you can assist families who are loving and caring for foster children or adopted children. Bring a meal, offer to take care of the kids so the parents can have a much-needed date night. Offer to help offset the cost of counseling for the children or their parents. God’s example of caring for orphans is one we are called to follow. And the Lord calls the church to be the family that all children need. How will you help?
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…