by Jill Richards, West Central Foster Care Advocate
“If one family in one third of all churches in America would adopt, there would be no more orphans looking for home.”
This was a statement my husband relayed to me while he was at a conference in the spring of 2010.
My husband and I discussed adoption even during the dating years of our relationship.
At the time, the reality of the statement above made it into our hearts; we already had two biological children and had suffered three miscarriages. We have three babies in heaven. We now have six children here on earth. During the dark days of miscarriage, God was working even then.
While we may never know all the ways the Lord used (or is using) the trial of miscarriage in our lives, we do know it created a void in our hearts that made space for children in our community who had the void of a parent in their hearts.
Ephesians 3:20-21 is what we have seen through our family’s life:
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Our first steps in foster care and adoption were signing up for IMPACT classes held by our local DFCS. Our home was designated as foster to adopt. We welcomed our first little fellow into our home in the summer of 2011. His adoption was finalized in the summer of 2013.
It didn’t take long to see the huge disparity in the number of kids in foster care in our county.
There were just ten foster homes in the entire county.
Often, when a foster family is able to adopt a child through foster care, they focus on the newly adopted child and do not foster any other children. But we could not close our home and walk away from foster care. We didn’t know what was next for us, but we knew we had to stay involved.
A couple of months after our adoption was finalized, there was a sibling group of little girls in our county that was about to have to move many miles from their biological home because foster homes in our county were full. We were given the opportunity to foster them.
This led to our second adoption. This time, given the needs of our children, we knew we would need to close our home to foster during this season of our lives.
We continue to be involved in caring for others who are actively fostering. We have done some community work to support families locally.
Now, as a Foster Care Advocate with Mission Georgia, I am able to use my previous experience as a foster mom to advocate for the needs of foster families in the West Central region of Georgia. I also help develop resources or connect families with support systems to assist them while they serve a population of Georgia’s most vulnerable.
Trauma is a big issue for kids who are in foster care.
Trauma that leads to disruption in families, causing placement in foster care or for adoption, can cause extreme challenges for children and the families who serve them. Mission Georgia has developed training and is compiling resources to aid families as they serve foster children in our state.
With the help of Mission Georgia, I am currently training to be a practitioner in Trust Based Relational Intervention, also known as TBRI. TBRI recognizes that harm often came to children in foster care through close, interpersonal relationships, and healing can only come through healthy, nurturing relationships.
TBRI teaches practical ways to bring healing. As a child heals from past trauma, he or she can eventually get to a place where they not only are able to regulate his or her own self but can come to a place where he or she is receptive to the gospel of Jesus.
In just a short time serving with Mission Georgia, I have been able to see great services and support that are being provided around our state. We want to see supportive resources spread across every Georgia community, so I am working to develop networks of like-minded individuals who, prayerfully, would like to help make that happen.
I am extremely grateful that the Lord has called me to a position so that I can seek out help for those who are now walking the road I have been on myself; a road that is challenging and often lonely – especially if medical and mental health resources for children are not easy to get.
Mission Georgia is seeking to relieve families of the difficult burdens parents bear so they can be in a better position to aid in the health and healing of foster children.
Ephesians 6:10 says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
While everyone is not called to foster care, everyone in every church can do something to aid others in the body of Christ who are.
May we as Georgia Baptists fulfill this call to assist our brothers and sisters doing this wonderful work in our own churches and communities. Please consider joining us in doing just that!