If you feel ready to take action in caring for children in need of families and/or their caretakers, here are some next steps:
- Pray. Pray using God’s Word as your guide. For example, “Dear Lord, guide me as I seek to do Your will in caring for orphans and widows and for those who are weak” (James 1:27; Psalm 41:1). Ask God to fill your heart with His love for children in need of a family.
- Discuss the calling with your spouse or a mentor. It goes without saying that a married couple needs to be in agreement. Pray separately and together. Single-parent adoption has its own particular challenges, so be sure to consult a pastor or wise friend who knows you well and can help you think it through (Proverbs 1:5).
- Nurture relationships with foster/adoptive families. If you don’t already know some, get to know one or more foster/adoptive families and spend time with them. Focusing on those in your church is often a great place to start.
- Find ways to serve foster/adoptive families. Contact your county’s children’s services division and ask for ways you can serve foster children/fostering families in your area. You may be able to volunteer for an existing service or event, such as a clothing closet, a back-to-school event, making frozen meals for emergency situations or providing small items to comfort children when they first enter care.
- Seek opportunities to serve children in care (and their parents). Volunteer to care for children in foster care while their caretakers get a break. This will be a great blessing to them!
If you then feel called to become a foster or adoptive parent, consider the following actions:
- Continue to pray. Ask God for wisdom, and for Him to fill your heart with His love for the children you will care for.
- Contact your county’s department of children and families or children’s services (they go by different names in different states) to explore how to become a foster or adoptive parent. It is likely you will need to fill out an application and meet with a county representative in your home before you begin training classes.
- Take an inventory of your emotions. Do you have unresolved trauma or grief? Caring for children who have experienced trauma may trigger your own. You will be a better caretaker for others if you have first addressed unresolved emotions in your own life. Consider meeting with a counselor.
- Prepare your biological children. Your county’s training should help you prepare your children, but it will also be helpful for your children — especially younger kids — to interact with other foster and adoptive families.
- Read books and blogs written by Christian foster or adoptive parents. Learn from the experiences of others.
- Find out if your own church or another area church has a group dedicated to foster or adoptive parents. Seek out local organizations that help foster/adoptive families. Build a personal network of friendships and support.
- Get involved in the larger community of people in your area who are fostering and/or have adopted.
Finally, don’t rely on online research alone. As much as possible, get involved in the community with others who are fostering before bringing new kids into your home.
Later, when you do have children in your home, you will benefit even more from the support of this community. Having like-minded families to connect with will be vital to the children in your care. They will especially appreciate being with other children in foster care because of their shared situation.
They might not talk about it much, but it’s a relief for children when they are in an environment with peers from similar backgrounds – where no explanations are required. It will be a relief to you as well.
Jenny Knowles and her husband, Lincoln, are adoptive parents to two sisters through foster care.