Dear Prospective Foster Parent …

By Jenny Knowles
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Is God prompting you to adopt? To provide foster care? To support foster and adoptive families? Maybe you've prayed about it, but you still feel unequipped and fearful. Well, you're not alone.

Dear Prospective Adoptive Parent of a Child from Foster Care (Dear me of four years ago) … 

We know each other. Our hearts meet where God’s compassion for orphaned children has crossed paths with the now-undeniable tug of the Holy Spirit. You know that you must do something, and now it’s time to move.

The real problem is that you’re not sure what to do — or perhaps you’re   reluctant to heed that urging in your heart. Is God prompting you to adopt? To provide foster care? To support foster and adoptive families with time? With treasure? With tears? Perhaps all of the above?

You’ve prayed, but you still feel unequipped and fearful. Especially at night when you lie awake, bombarded by a persistent combination of fears and doubts.

I know those same fears and doubts about adoption, about foster care. You doubt that you have enough love. You fear how it might affect your biological kids. You doubt you’ll be able to let go of a child you can’t help but love. You fear a home invasion by a young tornado. You doubt that you’ve listed all of your possible fears!

I won’t tell you that your thoughts are unfounded; they are common. The path you are traveling is well-worn by those who have gone before you. But let’s put your thoughts in perspective—consider them concerns rather than fears.

You have the understandable concerns of any adult taking on a new and life-changing challenge. Rather than letting them keep you awake at night, your concerns are best addressed in the clear light of day.

You are engaged in a battle of the heart and of the mind. It is a battle on behalf of children. You are an adult, and adults do battle in fearful places on behalf of children. Your impetus is love, and love from God properly nourished with His Word and guided by His Spirit will enable you to help children face the uncertain reality they live with every single day. 

The calling is unmistakable. It is scriptural, and you are very needed. Some (paraphrased) thoughts from my former pastor may be helpful:

God never calls a person only to himself; He also calls the person to His children. Scripture urges us to care for orphans and widows, to love our neighbors and to give a cup of cold water to those in need. The life of any Christian, regardless of their stage in life, is characterized by these themes. As you consider the service you have already given in the name of Jesus, I think you will see that God’s call on your life to foster or adopt — or to give more support to those who do — is simply another way to care for God’s children; to offer a cup of cold water to someone who needs refreshment.

I needed to hear those words, and maybe you do, too. I know where you’ve been, because I’ve been there. Four years ago I was asking the same questions as you, experiencing many of the same fears and doubts. Today, my husband and I are parents to two sisters we adopted from foster care.

We were surprised to find a very supportive community of other foster and adoptive parents. There is also a vast network of like-minded organizations dedicated to helping prospective parents just like we once were.

I’m writing this letter to encourage you and to help you move forward. So, what are you waiting for? Do it. Go big. Take the plunge. Don’t ignore or dismiss a call on your life that will cause you to lean on God like you’ve never done before.

If He’s been preparing you for this journey, He certainly won’t abandon you now.


Jenny Knowles and her husband, Lincoln, are adoptive parents to two sisters through foster care.

© 2017 Jenny Knowles.

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