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Baptist Churches of Queensland.

Letters to the Church #6: From Those in Foster Care

Dear Church,

Psalm 68:6 God sets the lonely in families.

The ESV translates this verse to say “God settles the solitary in a home.” An incredible picture and reflection of the heart of God for His people. There is a place for everyone and the answer to our loneliness is family.

That’s true for everyone. For single adults, for those far from the family of their homeland, for the spiritually seeking, for the disconnected and isolated. The incredible gift it is to be adopted as children of God means we are drawn into HIS family. Our need for belonging and connection is designed to be met in understanding our place in the broad family of faith. God doesn’t say we are LIKE family but that we ARE family. Every need for intimacy, understanding, identity, security and belonging can be fulfilled as we experience God’s love and inclusion through His family.

The premise of Foster Care is built on this principle. For a child who is unable to live in their biological family home a home is found; a family to belong to. For a child who has experienced neglect, rejection, trauma, detachment, disruption and uncertainty, a safer, more stable environment is offered through a foster home. He places the lonely in family.

The unfortunate reality for most foster families is that they are not nearly enough to meet the needs of a child in out of home care. The developmental gaps, the disruption to formational years, and the trauma, violence and disfunction they’ve witnessed or experienced, has left them with incredibly unstable foundations. There is so much to recover, so much to relearn, so much to heal from before they can begin to accept the love and ‘normality’ of a family. Questions that have been left unanswered, unhealthy patterns that need to be broken, a narrative that needs to be rewritten.

God places the lonely in families.

This has to be understood in the cultural context it was first communicated. It is a modern (and largely western) construct of families that we see them as delineations of exclusion rather than the expansive and inclusive model of family that existed in Biblical times. Families weren’t parents, 2 kids, a dog and gold fish all neatly contained in a detached dwelling behind fences, gates and locked doors. Families were more like tribes! Where multiple generations of all manner of biological and marital connections lived in shared community. Think about how Jesus’ parents lost him for a couple of days. (Luke 2) While it might look like bad parenting through our modern lens, it tells us something of the nature of family and community that existed in that time.

YOU, dear Church, are the family God places the lonely in. When a child is placed in foster care, they may be assigned to a specific household but they need more than any one family can give them. The church is best positioned to realise the role they play in ‘backfilling’ the missing pieces of a broken childhood. They are most able to surround a child and their household with the love, generosity, and care that is required to re-fill the empty places, heal the wounds, reinstate value, build attachment and grow relational muscles.

There are more than enough churches in our nation and people in our churches and capacity in spirit-filled hearts to respond to the needs of the 50,000 children who are in out of home care. WE , the broader “we”, can be family for the solitary. There may not be a foster child in your own home but there’s likely to be one in your family.

-Kimberly Smith

We would love to help your church fulfil this calling to be family for a child in need. So we’re excited to announce that this week we are launching our brand new resource: Circle of Support. Our aim is to help your church family surround and support foster carers and families as they walk the journey of foster care. To find out more, head to our store to download this guide for free.