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Fostering a Family

DCFS (the Department of Children and Family Services) is an acronym familiar to many because of news stories that report on abuse and neglect occurring in state foster care systems. These stories receive prominent coverage because “bad news sells.” The unintended consequence is that foster care appears to be a profoundly flawed system, and one that aspiring parents should avoid at all costs.

That’s not necessarily true.

The truth is that there are some amazing success stories in foster care. Stories of people who’ve opened their homes to children who were strangers and enabled them to experience loving family – in the process, altering the trajectory of their lives for the better.

Heather was 2 years old when she was placed in foster care. In the beginning, she resented the social workers who took her and her sister, Kayla, from their biological mother. But the girls quickly grew to love their foster parents, Barry and Marsha Yearwood, who later adopted them.

Heather, now 22 and happily married, didn’t fully appreciate the love she experienced in the Yearwood’s home until her biological mother resurfaced after many years. “She had a dead-end job. She moved every four months or so.” Heather’s younger brother, who’d remained with his mother, was a high school dropout. “She never instilled anything in him. I remember sitting there thinking that could be me.”

Today, thanks to the Yearwoods, both Heather and Kayla are attending college.  And, Heather and her husband, Dustin, have become foster parents. “It’s amazing what the Yearwoods were willing to do for me,” said Heather. “I felt like it was important to pay it forward.”

Is that story the exception that proves the rule?

John Silvey doesn’t think so. Growing up, he saw his parents take in and nurture hundreds of foster children. Foster care seemed completely natural to him. He shared his childhood with special needs children, and children who had been physically or sexually abused. Most, though, simply had no one to care for them. “When you’re a kid growing up in a family like that, you learn to have compassion,” he said. “It was a great experience.”

When he married, Silvey and his wife, Beth, decided to become foster parents. Less than two years after they completed their training, after having cared for three siblings and several other children, they got a call about newborn twins who needed a home. “From the moment we picked them up [on December 18th], we knew,” he said. “They were our Christmas present and they’ve been that to us every day. They are our girls.” The Silveys are finalizing adoption March 21st.

In one of his most memorable lessons to the disciples, Jesus taught that when we feed, clothe, comfort or welcome strangers, we do it for him. Not just in his honor, or in his memory. But also, as if we have literally done these things for Jesus himself. “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Come, you who are blessed, take your inheritance.“

Might it be that your home could be a haven for a child who needs the love you are so hungry to share? And might it be that, in the process of giving generously, you would also receive? Might this be the way God is calling you to create a family – and in the process, to bring His light and love into the life of a child?

Think about it. Pray about it. And then, listen for His guidance. This could be the path to your family….

=====================================================================For For more information on foster care parenting and child placement, visit FosterParenting.com.

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