There are more than 400,000 children in the United States foster care system. Kids are placed in foster care due to neglect, abuse, abandonment, substance abuse issues on the parts of their primary caretakers, etc. Foster care is meant to be a temporary measure. Ideally, children are placed in families with their siblings, but in many cases, siblings are separated, and in many cases, children are placed in group homes.
The goals of the foster care system are for children to achieve permanency, safety, and well-being. Different outcomes can lead to the achievement of these goals. Though reunification is the goal in most individual cases at the outset, it often fails and other outcomes result.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to love our neighbors. It is important to recognize that the biological family members of the children we foster are our neighbors. While we need to keep children safe, and we may not believe reunification is necessarily in the child’s best interests, we are called to love and must treat them as image bearers of God.
Much has been learned about trauma in recent years. Most children in foster care have experienced both trauma and loss. Such experiences may lead to behavioral issues and the need for ongoing counseling.
As is the case with adoption, so in foster care we might be asked to take in sibling sets, older children, and/or children with special needs. Again, we must be open to what God is calling us to do. We must also be aware that foster care will impact the children already in our home and must do our best to prepare them.
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