by Steve Hogue/ March 3, 2015
In James 1:27, the Bible says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (NIV).
When you hear the word orphan, what comes to mind? When I ask people this, they usually mention an orphanage somewhere in Africa or China. That is true, but there is also a child some like to call the modern-day orphan. It’s the child who is in the foster care system. This child has been removed from the home because of physical or sexual abuse, neglect, exploitation, or abandonment. There are half a million children in foster care in America, about twenty thousand in my state, and about eight hundred in my county. How many thousands of kids have been removed from their homes in your state? In your city? Most people don’t know. We’re not exposed to the realities of foster care until it’s on the news because of a foster child’s death. I didn’t know.
My wife and I were exposed to the world of foster care and adoption due to infertility. It was a time of great pain because we had a strong desire to parent. That desire opened us up to parenting someone else’s child. We blindly started the foster parent process by taking the state-mandated thirty-hour course. Two months later, we were surprised to receive an abandoned newborn baby through a local law firm. We became instant parents via a private adoption.
A year later, we received our first set of foster children and over the next eight years, fostered sixteen children and ended up adopting six. Then we adopted another child through private adoption, making a total of eight children. They range in age from nine months through fourteen years.
Today our hearts are not only full with our own quiver, but our desire is to share James 1:27 with the Church. It’s time for the body of Christ to accept the biblical mandate to care for orphans—even the ones in our own neighborhoods. It’s not the government’s duty, it’s ours! We must care for them by opening our homes to them while their parents “get back on their feet.” Our hearts must be willing and vulnerable to hear God call us to adopt. We can advocate for foster children in court, engage them through a mentorship program, visit them in group homes, provide our services to families who care for foster kids, and most importantly—we must pray for them, their biological families, and the families who care for them while they are in transition. We can all do our part!