The biggest "why" is simple.
There is a huge need. And we can help meet that need.
Anybody can meet that need. We are very ordinary people. But the good news is, God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
What we've signed up to do isn't extraordinary. Kids have very basic needs. To be fed. To be loved. To be cared for. To be known. Just like any person on this planet. Just like we're already doing with our own children. What's extraordinary is how God can use us -- very ordinary people doing very basic things -- to make a HUGE impact on the lives of these kids.
The training classes we took really opened our eyes to how different life is for so many people even in our immediate area. We live in a suburban bubble, and while there's a lot of good in that, it also gives us a false sense of reality. We heard so many appalling stories about what some of these kids have gone through, but the saddest part is that these stories occur on a daily basis all around us and we have been completely oblivious. Stories of drugs, abuse, and neglect. Stories of a culture where there are no fathers. Stories where there is definitely no knowledge of Jesus. Stories of hopelessness.
But what was meant for evil, God uses for good (Genesis 50:20). We also heard so many stories of redemption and hope and healing. Of orphaned children being adopted into permanent, loving homes. Of children being reunited with their biological parents after they got the help they needed. Foster care is certainly not without its flaws and we are going into it with guarded hearts. We know that heartache is a very possible outcome. But we also know that we have a huge opportunity to introduce children to another way of living. That even if they don't stay in our home forever and go back to a less than desirable situation, we have peace knowing that their time with us in our family will not have been fruitless. That they will have gotten to witness first-hand another way of living that they may otherwise have never known existed -- a healthy lifestyle centered around love and family. That they will have been introduced to Jesus and the hope that he promises.
Our "why" definitely evolved over time. It began more with a selfish perspective as we initially were only thinking of whether or not we wanted to grow our family and which route we would benefit from the most. But as time passed and God continued to work on our hearts, it became less and less about us and our checklist and more and more about these children and their needs. Over time, it shifted from "why in the world would we ever want to get involved with foster care?" (and this was once our way of thinking) to "why would we not?"
What once felt like a huge burden we now view as a huge blessing. We are going to be so blessed by these children we haven't even met yet. I am sure of it. And not only do we have an opportunity to love and care for them, we also have an opportunity to model for own kids what loving the way Jesus instructs us to actually looks like. To truly love in our actions and not just talk about it. They get to be actively involved and I can't think of a better way to teach them compassion and to grow their character through serving others. And you know what? They are SO excited. They talk about it all the time. They have voluntarily set aside toys and clothes for them. Any time we are out and about they point out things that they think would be good for our foster kids instead of begging for toys for themselves. They remind me that we might need to buy diapers and that if we get a baby, we'll need to get some bottles and pacifiers. We have talked extensively with them about realistic expectations and yet I'm not naive to believe that it won't be a huge adjustment for all of us. But since when is that such a bad thing?
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
I'm going to wrap this up with Harrison's own little paragraph. He came in as I was typing this and asked what I was writing. I told him it was a blog post about why we made the decision to foster. He told me he wanted to write his own post as well, and here is what he dictated to me verbatim:
"Why do people foster? Because, um, if their parents are sick. I love fostering. I liked our home study. I don't know when exactly we're going to foster but I bet it's going to be exciting. 'Cause it's fun but if you're a bad guy you can't foster. If you are a good guy you can foster, but not if you're a bad guy. I'm just telling you that for you to remember. So, let your heart fill with joy and concern. We love that we're going to foster because God wants us to love other people. So let yourself foster. Don't you love the sound of it?"
Yes, Harrison, I do love the sound of it. Such profound words for a 4-year old.