I think this is a first in my blogging life: a guest post!
When I asked you all to share the places you’ve seen hope this year, my aunt Susan sent me a whole essay. She’s part of Summerdean Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Virginia, and their congregation has become active supporting kids and social workers in the foster care system. I know, because one of those kids was at our Thanksgiving dinner, that they are also intentional about connecting with and caring for parents and families of children in the system when it’s possible, and that they work to prevent children from entering foster care in the first place. Read about it in Susan’s own words!
I see HOPE in the actions and love of those persons involved in foster care!
I have had knowledge of foster care for a long time, probably since prior to 1976. My brother in law was a foster care worker, my in-laws had foster care children. In those years I really did not think much about why foster care existed or why it was needed. The kids my in-laws had were a part of the family and loved and nurtured like their other kids. But in the last 10 years, I have learned and observed much about foster care and had much more personal experience. Summerdean COB has practiced “caring for the least of these.” We have learned and experienced much as a church about foster care. There are 200 children in foster care in Roanoke City and 5000 kids in foster care in Virginia. Some people became passionate about foster and orphan care. They encouraged others to care about these children. Summerdean has met many physical needs through our church’s ministry, Project 127 and has supported a community ministry, Care Portal to meet needs.
BUT, more hopeful, people have become involved in foster care. In our small congregation (average attendance is about 85) 11 adults or 6 homes have qualified as foster care providers. All but one home has had children in their care. The other home has recently qualified and is expecting a placement. I have lost count of how many children these homes have served. The children who were in the homes were loved, fed, clothed, and brought to church while with the foster family. Over the last 4 years, FOUR, yes, FOUR precious children who were in foster care because their parents were unable to care for them have been adopted into Summerdean families where they will be loved. THIS IS LOVE IN ACTION!! THERE IS HOPE! These adopting families are supported in many ways by our congregation. Our congregation is also offering encouragement to Roanoke City social workers in various ways.
I had the privilege of praying for many of these families and children. Today, there was a court hearing for one child to determine his future, my prayer is for wisdom for the judge and that the child will be in a safe, loving home.
Do you know that there are times when kids have nowhere to go? They cannot stay in their home and a placement cannot be found for them. What happens? They live at the Department of Social Services until a place can be found. This means social workers have to stay at work 24/7 to care for these children. Love in action again-our congregation tries to take food to these kids so they don’t have to eat fast food all the time.
There is hope because someone cares enough about the children to insure that they are not in an unhealthy or dangerous home, someone cares enough to want these kids to thrive. There is hope that these children will become productive adults. But the real hope is seen in the children’s faces, in their hugs, in the smiles, to see them thriving, to hear them tell me Christmas is Jesus’s birthday. Hope is seen in the families willing to give so much to provide for these kids.