The hubs and I started attending our church before we were even dating. Our friends convinced him to try it out and after a few weeks of attending there, his enthusiasm (and good looks) prompted me to give it a go, as well.
All through my time as a student at Bible college, I never once found a church to call my home. It wasn't until I walked up the steps of a tiny little church all the way on the north side of the city did I realize what I'd been missing. As soon as I walked into the sanctuary and was greeted by warm smiles and even some hugs, I felt like I was Home.
It's the same church the hubs and I got married in. It's the same church that held us as we grappled with the loss of Glory and my near-fatal ruptured ectopic pregnancy. And then the loss of hope for any more biological children. And then the loss of my health. And a deep, dark depression. This church and the community that comes with it is rich and not afraid to dig into the ugly.
When we started to venture into the land of domestic adoption. we struggled a bit because while some people in our church community were SUPER excited for us, others were hesitant and distant. We wanted our people to join with us, to BE with us on this journey, and what we perceived as a personal slight, in the end, turned out to be one of the ways God was directing us away from domestic adoption.
After our time of pause in pursuing adoption and our decision to do foster care, our church jumped right in. Their exuberant response to our new path was another confirmation from God that this was what we were supposed to be doing all along.
Our new journey opened doors to many conversations and new relationships. They have been so, so supportive in this journey and I want to share some ways they have helped us up to now and then some ways I hope they will continue to help us after we start receiving foster children.
Prayer is BY FAR the most encouraging and effective tool the church can use to come alongside and prepare foster parents within their congregation. Our elders have prayed for and over us many times in this process. Individuals have done so, as well. Through their prayers, we have been made aware of God's heart for us AND for foster children. We also get to experience and hear the heart of the person praying for us.
Prayer from our community has also helped us overcome some significant spiritual attacks. We weren't even licensed before we started experiencing Satan's fiery darts. The attacks have been frequent and HARD. They have caused us to question and doubt and despair. But our desperate prayers mingled with confident prayers from our community for aid and relief have reached God's ears on numerous occasions.
As soon as we announced our decision to pursue adoption, we were inundated with donations of clothes, books, baby gear, bottles and toys. This continued on even more so after our foster care announcement. There were so many clothes that I had to sort through them and give some away because we simply didn't have the space for them.
Another amazing way people from our church community have donated is through gift cards. These are probably the most needed as foster children are often placed without much notice. Having gift cards on hand so the parents can run to Target for diapers/wipes, formula and clothes is SO helpful! We already have a nice stockpile of gift cards we are saving for moments such as that.
We actually have two church communities and they each threw us a celebration and shower. My home church that I grew up in threw us a shower that was full of delicious soups and sweets and great storytelling and gifts galore.
Our current church community threw us another celebration shower this past weekend. It was a simple time of fellowship, fun, SO MUCH CHOCOLATE, lots of encouragement and gifts.
Both are things I had to directly ask for since no one really knew where we stood on having one. I approached people I knew would be excited to help and simply said, "We'll be licensed soon and would love it if you could organize a shower and celebration for us." I gave them emails of people I wanted to invite and left the rest up to them. The women I asked went above and beyond their call of duty and made each celebration a sweet, special time of joy for us.
Listening to Our Story
This may not seem like a big deal or a desirable task to take on, but for the foster parents, it's HUGE. We have a lot to process and a lot to share. Not many people care about or understand our story, so when someone takes the time to sit down and listen to us, we feel seen and heard on a deeper level. It has been one of my most cherished experiences in my community, being able to sit among dear ones who simply want to hear my heart.
These four steps are seemingly easy. But they require sacrifice on your end, sacrifice of time, money and your comfort zone. They require you to dive into a messy situation and to get involved in coming alongside a family fighting for normal. Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to get your hands dirty and your heart bruised for the sake of hurting families and children?
I hope you say yes. We need you now more than ever.