Four years ago my son was growing in the womb of another woman. This woman, or perhaps young girl would be a better description, was likely afraid. Her life was unstable, the pregnancy was her first and unexpected. She hadn’t made all the best decisions up to that point and some of her decisions would have lasting consequences for her and her unborn child. Yet I consider this young girl one of the most courageous women I know because she let this little one grow inside her, not knowing what the future would hold. When it would have been perhaps “in her best interest” or “more convenient” to visit the abortion clinic, she chose life. She carried this little one inside her to full-term, went to the hospital when the time came, and gave him life. I’m forever grateful for her decision, and for this little boy, the unborn baby whose life was spared, who I now get to call my son.
When we think pro-life, sidewalk counseling outside the abortion clinic and pleading with a young woman to not enter is typically what comes to mind. This is important and vital work. However, if we are going to call ourselves pro-life we need to broaden our perspective beyond the abortion clinic. If we are going label ourselves pro-life, not only do we have the responsibility to care for unborn babies and their mothers, but also for children that have been born. The ones who were protected, whose mother chose life, are still in need. In need of our care, in need of our protection, and in need of our home.
Currently in the United States, there are about 430,000 children in this situation. Of these 430,000 foster children, nearly 112,000 of them are waiting to be adopted. By definition, foster children are those whose birth parents are unable to care for them at the present time and need someone to care for them for a week, a month, a year, or permanently. Some have been abused or neglected, but others have birth parents who simply need time to get back on their feet.
Our journey with foster care began with a phone call one chilly March morning, just weeks after becoming a state-approved foster home. A six-pound baby boy had been born and needed a home for a few weeks until more permanent arrangements could be made with family members. We said yes, taking him in as our own for as long as the Lord saw best. Little did we know those weeks would turn into months, and the months into years. In September 2016, a two-and-a-half-year chapter in this little boy’s life closed. He went from being one of the 430,000 foster children in our country to being our son. My husband, Joel, and I had the privilege and joy of swearing under oath before God, the family court judge, and our friends and family to officially make him a part of our family forever.
Foster care doesn’t have to be “plan B” in your life. Joel and I didn’t pursue it because of an inability to have biological children. We also didn’t do it because we’re special or possess a unique ability to remain unattached from kids who come into our home. Our plan from the beginning was to get “too attached” to our son, no matter the outcome. The things we’ve seen have broken our hearts. We’ve anxiously awaited phone calls after court dates. We’ve braced ourselves to say goodbye to our baby on numerous occasions. We’ve cried over news of birth parents dropping out of rehab and we wept as we watched our little guy’s birth parents kiss him goodbye (for now). The path of foster care isn’t safe for the heart, but we embarked down it anyway. And we hope to do it again, because there are children who need homes, and because we have a Savior who has loved us like this. He willingly laid down his life in order to welcome us into his family forever.
In some of his final words to his disciples, Jesus assures them to not let their hearts be troubled, since he will not leave them as orphans (John 14). He promises to send the Holy Spirit as their Helper; he also promises he will one day return to bring them to himself. Jesus explains that his Father’s house has many rooms, and that through his death he will fling open the doors for those who trust him to live forever with him. As Christians, we’ve been adopted into an eternal family through the blood of Jesus. In light of his grace, may we care for the lives of the unborn and the born, may we speak for them outside the doors of Planned Parenthood and then may we continue to care for them by opening our earthly homes for a week, a month, or all of our days. And as we do, may we point them and a watching world to Jesus—the One who welcomes us into his forever home.