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Will it be easy?  Nope.  Worth it?  Absolutely!

  That’s a quotation from a website that’s full of insights about Foster Parenting, and Foster Parenting is what we’ll be exploring on today’s Visit to the Pastor’s Study.

Foster parenting is managed state by state, and things can change rather rapidly in the world of foster parenting, but it’s estimated that about 450,000 United States children under the age of 18 are in foster homes, and that number goes up dramatically every year.

Foster parents provide temporary homes for children until they can be reunited with their families, or - if for whatever reason that’s not possible – adopted.   Foster parents work with a team – including the child, the child’s family, the foster care agency, and family court to establish the best home environment for children who have come out of painful (if not actually hurtful) family situations.

While each state has its own requirements for foster parents and foster homes, generally foster parents (they may be single or married), must be at least 25 years of age. He, she, or they must pass a criminal background check, have a regular source of income to provide for monthly expenses, have at least one available bedroom in a home that’s either owned or rented by the foster parent or parents, have a car, the proper car insurance, and a clean DMV record, and be flexible enough with their schedules so that they can accommodate court ordered visits as well as medical and therapy appointments for the foster child.  The homes of foster parents must pass a safety check.  Beyond that, each state has its own particular requirements for foster families and foster homes.   And each state establishes guidelines for the monthly amount to be provided to foster parents for both the child’s maintenance and clothing.

Of course, foster parents must be able to provide an environment of physical and emotional care for the children they take into their home.   You can understand why prospective foster families need to be evaluated and approved both the agencies in charge of finding foster homes.  Prospective foster parents will be asked about:

  • Their experience with raising children.
  • Their commitment to care for foster children, and their stability as a family
  • Their experience with issues of child abuse or neglect.
  • Their approach to child discipline.
  • Their awareness of the importance of measures that provide a safe environment for children.
  • Their flexibility and their adaptability.
  • Their awareness of the potential impact of foster parenting on foster family members, as well as on the family’s lifestyle.
  • Their willingness to seek help from the proper agencies and personnel.

Now as I read these things, I’m struck with how a healthy Christian family can be an ideal foster family:

  • The Word of God says a lot about raising children. There are volumes of excellent books on parenting which have formed and are forming this generation of Christian parents.  So, if these things are taken seriously – as they should be by committed Christian parents – these provide an excellent foundation for raising biological children or providing a healthy home environment for foster children.
  • Christians are called to love others by giving themselves for the good of others – the ideal atmosphere for helping foster children.
  • Christian homes should be the most stable of homes, if the people in those homes (led by the parents) live out of biblical principles and lives of commitment to Christ as Savior and Lord.
  • Christian parents should understand the basic principles of godly child discipline – which provide the right measures of firm correction and gracious direction.
  • Christians who work out the practical implications of the sixth commandment – you shall not kill – are in the best place to provide a truly safe environment for children, including foster children.
  • The Christian commitment to be like Christ in becoming all things to all people that by all means we might save some is exactly what is necessary for the flexibility and adaptability necessary to be a good foster parent (or a parent of a biological child!)
  • Christians, of all people, should be those who “count the cost” of committing themselves to being a foster home – with all the home lifestyle challenges that will bring.
  • Committed Christians – again, of all people – understand and willingly apply themselves to submission to others, because the Word of God commands that in so many places and ways.

And particularly because church officers – ministers, elders, and deacons – are to be those who model “ruling their own households and their children well,” it would seem that these officers (with their spouses and children) would be ideal to open their homes to foster children.  In fact, given the great need for foster parents, shouldn’t we see this as a “mission field” that is “white unto harvest”?

There’s certainly much promise as we think about – if I may put it this way – the family ministry of foster parenting; but there’s also pitfalls – especially as committed Christian foster parents must interface with an increasingly secular culture and increasingly secular states and counties.  How can Christians with a burden to open their homes to foster children keep their convictions even as they are scrutinized by those who don’t share those convictions – or who may be antagonistic to them?

Our topic for today’s Visit to the Pastor’s Study is Foster Parenting: The Promises and the Pitfalls.  My guest is a pastor who, with his wife and biological children, have worked through these issues as they have gone through the process of becoming approved as a foster family.   He’s with me today to help us work through these issues.  He especially wants to help those of you who are considering the possibility of becoming foster parents or a foster family.

Drew Eenigenburg serves as pastor of the West Sayville Reformed Bible Church  - a congregation of the United Reformed Churches in North America located in – as you would guess – West Sayville, Long Island, New York.  Pastor Drew and his wife, Annie, are very familiar with foster parenting – but I’ll let him tell you about that in a moment…

Here’s a link to the full program:


Yours in our welcoming God who invites us into His House,

Pastor Bill