My eyes were opened to the world of children growing up in out of home care – foster and kinship care – when we took our first placement. Although I had worked in the community sector, done social research on it, and been involved in advocacy, the lives of families whose children are removed and the unfair impact of trauma and neglect on children became real. The needs of families interacting with our child protection system in Australia, is unseen yet all around us. We have children needing the protection of adults, needing homes, needing their basic needs met, and needing healing so the can both just be a kid and grow up with hopes and dreams.
Opening our home to foster care was also a spiritual awakening as we became the hands and feet of God in our community – opening our homes, lives, and hearts to children, their families, workers, and others. It became so obvious that God asks all of us to respond to the vulnerable, to protect children, to not just talk about it, but live it. Fostering Hope’s work comes from James 1:27 true religion is to protect the orphans and widows in their distress. To go to, to visit, to care for, to protect orphans and widows in their distress, not to leave this to government or NGOs, but for us Christians to do this.
Our dream is for churches in Australia to see this as local mission. To see carers as people living out James 1:27 and being supported by their church community. For churches to understand the devastating impact of childhood trauma and how we can all play a part in being a safe adult around children who need safety, consistency, and joy.
It is an absolute privilege to do life with incredible foster, kinship, and informal carers. To see their heart grow for all the children in their home, to see their flexibility and creativity as they try different ways of parenting and doing life, to pray with them for birth families, healing, and hope. It is a gift to see children thrive, grow, learn and heal. It is both incredibly hard and incredibly amazing to see families reunited.
We would love to see children not removed and parents supported. Children who enter out of home care, do enter a broken system, and so do we as their carers. As much as we’d love to fix this system, I think our role is to step into the brokenness, like Jesus did for us, and let the brokenness transform us to compassion, mercy, action, and to our knees in prayer.